Youth arts keeps young hands & minds busy
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor   
Friday, 24 August 2012 11:48
File photo. General view of last year's Youth Art at the Black Swamp Arts Festival. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
If you see youngsters with paper hats or “swamp wings” strolling through the Black Swamp Arts Festival streets, you’ll know they’ve spent time in the Youth Arts area.
Youth Arts, which draws more than 1,000 youngsters during the three-day festival, gives parents who attend the fest for the arts, music or food, time to sit back and let their child have their fun.
“Everybody loves paper hats,” said Matt Reger, Youth Arts committee chairman.
“The two things that are always the most popular are the tie-dyed (shirts) and the paper hats,” he added.
The swamp wings were given a “time out” and have been rejuvenated this year.
The festival promotes the arts in the Bowling Green community, and doesn’t forget the youngsters while doing so.
The Youth Arts area, located at the north end of the festival near to Wood County District Public Library, is open Sept. 8 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sept. 9 from noon to 5 p.m.
According to the BSAF web site, all activities have been tried and tested and are guaranteed fun. Volunteers supervise all activities and stage performances. Activities may vary each year.
The year, in addition to the hats, T-shirts and swamp wings (which the kids decorate and then strap on their backs with elastic), the Youth Arts area will include easel painting, decorating a cut-out salamander (the fest’s logo), placemats the kids can color, plus tie-dyed pillowcases. The music discovery zone will return this year, where children can try their rhythm by playing instruments made of PCV pipes and buckets, according to Reger, who took over chairmanship for Martha Everett, who for five years led the Youth Area planning.
“She puts a lot of effort in it and makes it easy for us to do our job,” Reger praised.
The Youth Arts area is “extremely important” to the success of the festival, Reger continued. “Youth art is an extremely vibrant part of what goes on. It makes it so it is truly a family event. It’s an element that makes the arts festival such an exciting thing.”
Having more than 1,000 kids through the area means there’s a need for a lot of volunteers.
And a lot of supplies.
Everything purchased for Youth Arts is bought from downtown merchants, Reger said.
“We can’t tell you even the number of hats we go through,” he stated.
For instance, the festival used to purchase four to six rolls of butcher paper for the hats. This year, it will be eight rolls.
The area has experienced slow growth through the years. The music discovery zone was new in the past few years, but “we try to keep it within a manageable size.”
The Family Entertainment stage is also near the library, on North Main Street, This stage is geared towards music and entertainment for family members of all ages and typically includes musicians who have performed on the main stage.
If you or your organization is interested in volunteering in the Youth Art Area, contact Joy Hobson, Youth Arts volunteer coordinator at (419) 354-2723 or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
More information about the festival and planned events can be found on the BSAF website at

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