Don’t be surprised if you see kids wearing robot heads around Schenectady on Saturday.
They’re probably sporting something made by Fran Giordano, an organizer for the Kids' Arts Festival.
“We make these heads every year,” Giordano said, laughing. In years past she’s made an Einstein head, an Edison head and even an Ann B. Davis head.
“Kids pose with them,” Giordano said, “they can have a robot parade this year.”
It’s only fitting, as robots are the theme for the 23rd Kids' Arts Festival. But cardboard heads and robot parades are just a sliver of the activities planned for the Festival.
Starting at noon on Saturday, City Hall and all along Jay Street, the Festival will offer over 50 activities for kids and families. Although the Festival is focused on the arts, there will be plenty of robotics-centered events.
Kids can learn how to code a robot or craft robot puppets. They’ll also have the chance to watch a NASA robot in action. Representatives of the Empire State Aerosciences Museum will show festival goers the basics of drone flying. The Dudley Observatory of misci will give kids a new view of the sky with their solar glasses. Kids can have a chance to -safely- look into the sun.
C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studios and several other local artists will be on the premises working with kids to make everything from puppets to watercolor painting to Father’s Day cards. Studios will also gather festival goers together to help create a community collage.
Kids will also be able to try out instruments through CHIME Orchestra’s Test Drive a Trombone program.
“It’s supposed to stop at 4 o’clock and it never does. Because if there is still a kid who wants to learn about the pottery wheel, then Robert Carreau will stay and show them,” said Betsy Sandberg, the chairperson for the Festival.
Although this is her first year chairing the Festival, she’s been involved in the event in some capacity for several years. When the event first started, Sandberg reported on it for The Gazette and immediately knew she wanted to become involved in some capacity.
“Kids love it because there’s such a wide variety of activities,” Sandberg said. Unlike other festivals where parents have to pay for each activity, all the events and activities at Kids' Art Festival are free.
“No one gets left out,” Sandberg said.
Beyond the entertaining events planned for the Festival (like performances by The Puppet People, Mike Purcell and the Oneida Middle School Jazz Group), kids will also have the chance to learn about how voting works and weigh in on what next year’s festival should offer. The Schenectady League of Women Voters will set up a booth to allow kids to vote on their favorite activities at the Festival and what they’d like for next year.
"We've got seven candidates vying for two spots as the favorite activity and a guaranteed spot in next year's festival," said Kay Ackerman, the Voter Services Chair of the LWV.
The Festival offers an afternoon of free activities and performances for families and kids, to see a full schedule visit kidsartsfestivalschenectady.com.
In case of rain, the Festival will move inside City Hall. Franklin and Jay Streets will be closed to traffic during the event. Complimentary parking is available along nearby streets and at the Broadway garage.