Youngsters flock to fairgrounds during Kids Day

By Noel Lyn Smith
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, September 13, 2012

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(Times photo – Paul Natonabah)

TOP: Kids line up at an ice cream and lemonade booth at the fairgrounds during the 66th annual Navajo Nation Fair Kids Day on Sept. 6.

SECOND FROM THE TOP: School kids try their luck for a prize at a basketball toss during the 66th annual Navajo Nation Fair Kids Day on Sept. 6.

THIRD FROM THE TOP: Mascots lined up for an introduction to the crowd during the 66th annual Navajo Nation Fair Kids Day on Sept. 6. From left are, Bandit, Banana Begay, Punchy Yazzie, Sparky, Hamburger and Grimace.

FOURTH FROM THE TOP: A Pinon Elementary student, center, makes a mad dash during fruit scramble at the 66th annual Navajo Nation Fair Kids Day Sept. 6.

C hildren of all ages ruled the fairgrounds on Sept. 6 during the 66th annual Navajo Nation Kids Day.

"Hey! Do you want to see Miss Navajo dance?" asked Pax Harvey, who served as master of ceremony, to students gathered at the Anne Wauneka Arena, where majority of the kids activities took place.

"Yeah!" students yelled.

The request was fulfilled as the outgoing Miss Navajo Nation Crystalyne Curley danced with mascots from the tribe's fire department, the Department of Behavioral Health Services, and the Special Diabetes Program.

As the group danced, volunteers went about placing large boxes of apples, bananas and oranges along the arena in preparation for the fruit scramble.

The volunteers opened each box then rolled the fruits along the arena floor as the children eagerly waited to collect the fruit.

"It looks like those apples and oranges just grew there," Harvey said as the ground was covered by dozens of fruits.

As soon as the music started, a sea of kids filled the arena floor.

When exiting they walked away with hands and arms filled with apples, bananas and oranges then sat in the arena stands checking their loot.

After the activities concluded at the arena, students, teachers and chaperones left to explore every inch of the fairgrounds.

At the student mural project inside Gorman Hall, Lebyron Lewis, a third-grade teacher at Greasewood Springs Community School, watched his students dressed in bright pink T-shirts paint one of the large murals.

The murals were part of a student art project sponsored by Art of the People, a coalition of Native American artists dedicated to preserving Native culture through various forms of art.

Mary Ohmsatte, one of Lewis' students, had fun painting as evident on her paint splattered T-shirt.

"Is that OK?" Ohmsatte said while looking at her T-shirt. After Lewis assured Ohmsatte that all was well, she returned to painting.

Lewis said his students enjoyed visiting the exhibits inside Nakai Hall and the energy expo tent.

"It's going fairly well," Lewis said about the Kids Day experience.

Sitting under the shade on the south side of the Window Rock Sports Center were 21 students from Elaina Vann's first-grade class at Ganado Primary School.

In preparation to the fair outing, Vann's students practiced staying together in a group and paying attention to their teacher and chaperons' instructions.

They also sported white T-shirts that each student decorated with fabric paint.

"On Kids Day, with different classes here, it sets a different tone and atmosphere," Vann said then added that celebrating children is the heart of event.

Throughout the fairgrounds, students from Cottonwood Day School were not difficult to notice with their fluorescent orange T-shirts.

"They're excited about the fair. Today's the only day some of them get to come out," said third-grade teacher at Cottonwood Liz Bahe.

Bahe stood with two of her students as they waited for others to finish riding the "Starship 2000."

One of Bahe's students, Tyler, who declined to give his last name, said he was planning to ride "The Vertigo," a swing ride that raises high in the air on a central pole then spins and moves downward as the swings fly.

"It goes high," Tyler said.

The midway was crazy with activity as the younger students walked in groups with teachers and chaperones while older students visited with friends.

Some groups sported T-shirts declaring their schools, including Rock Point Community School, Wide Ruins Community School, Mary Farms Community School, and Nazlini Community School.

Ganado Primary School third-grade teacher Shauna Silversmith sat with her 21 students in the cool shade at the powwow arena.

Silversmith's students were resting after participating in the activities at the Anne Wauneka Arena and visiting Nakai Hall.

"They bought toys, drinks and whatnot," Silversmith said.

One of her students, Autumn Smith, 8, smiled when asked to list her favorite place the class visited, which was the 4H livestock at the Lorene C. Lee Pavilion.

"Because that's my favorite," Smith said.

Another student, Roemaro Whitehip, 8, purchased a pair of boxing gloves and a punching bag. He could not wait to open both, which he did to show his friends but quickly put away the items at Silversmith's request.

"Yeah," Whitehip said when asked if the fair was fun.

Belle Deveaux, 8, was super excited to show her goldfish to Silversmith.

In the end, among the rows and rows of school buses parked west of Bashas, a pair flashed its top red lights to signal that Kids Day was drawing to a close.