Olivia Pinesett watched a puppet show through pink-and-purple glasses made from pipe cleaners.
After the puppets took their final bows, the 8-year-old Schenectady girl got up and looked through those glasses for the next activity.
“Where’s the face paint?” she asked her father, Cornelius, who carried a yellow-and-red balloon animal in his hand.
Olivia and her dad were among many families that packed Jay Street from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday for the 20th annual Kids Arts Festival put on by the ElectriCity Arts District. In addition to face painting, a puppet show and balloon artists, the free festival offered about 30 hands-on art activities for kids, including playing with slime, working with clay, making macaroni necklaces and playing the drums.
“It’s something exciting for the kids,” Cornelius Pinesett said. “The community doesn’t have that much for them, so the little that they do give is appreciated.
“I’m not saying that every day they should have something, but kids love that. When they’re out of school and they ain’t got nothing to do, this is something to give them something to think about — something positive.”
Under a tent run by the Boys & Girls Club of Schenectady, Shirley DeLuca of Rotterdam wasn’t sure what her two youngest boys were making with clay.
“Pretty much whatever they want,” she said.
Karin Jacobsen, 20, who works for the Boys & Girls Club, said that was the idea of the activity.
“The kids can make whatever kind of project they want, and they can take them home,” she said. “It’s different. It’s not playdough — it’s a little more earthy.”
About 100 people volunteered for the event, which is funded by nearly $8,000 in grants and private donations, said Karen Johnson, who was chairing the event for the 20th year.
“At the end of the day, the fatigue level is enormous, but people who volunteer here love it, and they want to come back,” said Johnson, a former Schenectady mayor and current vice chairwoman of the Schenectady County Legislature. “And I think the reason is that it’s a kids-centered activity, and they can do anything they want.”
And it’s a great time for all, said DeLuca.
“They love it,” she said. “It’s a good thing for not just the kids, but the community.”