Score one for the home team.
Last year, the inaugural Children’s Arts Festival at Centennial Hills Park featured out-of-town talent in the performance spotlight.
For Saturday’s second edition, however, festival organizers decided it was time to come home.
That’s why local groups will take the stage throughout the free event.
From taiko drummers to folklorico dancers, local performers will showcase the community’s diverse cultures, according to event coordinator Brian Kendall, a cultural supervisor for the city of Las Vegas.
“Last year, we brought in musical groups from out of town,” Kendall points out. “This year, we wanted to showcase our community groups.”
And those groups are more than happy to be showcased, according to participants.
During last year’s festival, Las Vegas Kaminari Taiko — a Japanese drumming group — participated, but not as a main attraction, musical director Jennifer Caballero recalls.
This year, however, the all-ages drum group will be on the main stage, about midday.
“It’s a good way to at least introduce Japanese culture” to festival attendees, she says, citing the chance to “share different cultures to kids that they might not be able to experience” otherwise.
That opportunity also holds true for the members of the Sign Design Theatre Co., which features both deaf and hearing children, ages 5 to 18, dancing and performing musical numbers in American Sign Language.
Saturday’s performance will include “everything from musicals to songs you hear on the radio,” Sign Design performance director Dawn Carroll says. Also on tap: a medley of ’80s faves from “Beat It” to “Footloose.”
About 25 Sign Design members will perform Saturday, Carroll says.
Although three-quarters of the troupe’s members aren’t deaf, “they’re all fluent in ASL,” she explains, demonstrating that “you can bring deaf children into the hearing world,” where others can understand their language. “That’s one of the best things about it,” Carroll concludes.
The Lohan School of Shaolin will present a traditional Chinese lion dance, combining “a colorful and exciting visual performance” with a demonstration of “teamwork amongst the dancers … and the passing on of the dance to younger students in order to keep the tradition,” explains the school’s Steve Baugh.
New to this year’s Children’s Arts Festival: the Clark County Children’s Choir, which includes preschoolers, high-schoolers and all ages in between.
About 70 of the choir’s 180 members are expected to sing Saturday, performing a weather-centric medley ranging from the Beatles (“Here Comes the Sun”) to Harry Belafonte (“Turn the World Around”).
The half-hour showcase will include plenty of time for four separate choir ensembles to sing, notes Holly Steed, the choir’s founder and artistic director.
“These are really fun experiences for the kids,” Steed says. “It’s a fun way to reach out to our community.”
Reaching out to the community is a primary inspiration for the children’s arts festival, Kendall says.
Despite the Centennial Hills location, organizers hope the event will attract families from throughout Southern Nevada.
There’s plenty to keep them occupied once they get there.
In addition to the scheduled performances, the festival lineup includes balloon artists, face painting, jump houses, a DJ and a professional clown.
Make-and-take arts and crafts, an informal theater-skills workshop and an illustration workshop also are expected to be part of the event, Kendall says, along with gymnastics and martial arts demonstrations.
In addition, between 30 and 40 informational booths will provide kids — and their parents — with information on a variety of activities available this summer at the Discovery Museum, local libraries, valley YMCA branches and other locales.
“They all kind of have a purpose,” Kendall says, with “different programs to offer for families to sign up for. That’s why we designed the event — especially with summer starting.”
Of course, all that activity might make make family members hungry and/or thirsty, so festival vendors will be on hand to offer a variety of refreshments.
They’re “the only thing that costs any money” at Saturday’s festival, Kendall says. Otherwise, “bring lots of water,” he advises — and be prepared to discover that “there are offerings for families and kids in Southern Nevada.”
Contact reporter Carol Cling at email@example.com or 702-383-0272.