The 17th annual Children’s Fair was held April 25 at the IRA Civic Center. This year’s fair was the most widely attended, with estimates of more than 3,000 people. The fair is attended by a diverse audience and all ages are represented.

The first fair was held on April 21, 1999 in Target’s parking lot. Fingerprinting/ID services were offered along with car seat safety checks, with law enforcement’s help. Tours of a fire truck, Meds-1 ambulance, and a police squad car were also featured. Approximately 200 people attended.

The following year Children First! moved the event to the IRA Civic Center utilizing just one venue, the main floor lobby, and the upstairs lobby for the Kiwanis breakfast. The breakfast was a hit and has been a part of the Children’s Fair ever since that fair in 2000. Approximately 500 people attended.

In 2001 the fair expanded into the second venue of the arena and added the big vehicles and community attractions. Attendance doubled.

“The Children’s First Children’s Fair is truly a community event,” said Melanie DeBay, coordinator of the event. “Many community agencies came together to provide a wonderful, engaging, interactive, educational event for the families across the Itasca Area. With over 3000 people in attendance, families left the event with smiles on their faces and resources in their bags! Thank you to everyone who played a role in making this event possible for our families!”

The Blandin Foundation provides funding for the annual Children’s Fair and turned over the funding to Itasca Area Community Education in 2006. Community Education has carried on the tradition of the fair and does all the organizing and strategizing.

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