Reminder Assistant Editor
AGAWAM Last Wednesday, two-year-old Eden Berry sat on her mother's lap on the lawn of the Veteran's Green soaking up the bright summer sun and the first day of the fourth annual KidsFest.
Through the lenses of her pink "Dora the Explorer" sunglasses, she sat staring inquisitively at the many children surrounding her as they sang along to the musical stylings of singer and songwriter Dennis Caraher.
Caraher was the first musical act to kickoff the Parks and Recreation Department's KidsFest Wednesday morning. According to Christopher Sparks, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, Caraher is one of three diverse performances that comprise the lineup for this year's KidsFest.
"I've yet to repeat performers and will continue to bring in new acts as long as I can find quality entertainment," Sparks said.
He added that no two performers are of the same genre of entertainment in any given year. Sparks noted that this year will feature Caraher, a singer and songwriter; Michael Trautman, a solo actor, mime, clown, magician, storyteller and improviser at 11 a.m. on July 23; and the Toe Jam Puppet Band, a group of performers who include music, dance and puppetry in their performances at 10 a.m. on Aug. 6.
Valerie Smart, Berry's mother, said she enjoys bringing her daughter to KidsFest each year because of the festival's diverse entertainment as well as its ability to bring family and friends together Barry was accompanied by her cousins.
Sparks explained that the success of SummerFest is what prompted him to provide entertainment opportunities for children and their families during the day.
SummerFest will kick off on July 16 at 7 p.m., on the Veteran's Green on Main Street with a performance by the Jazzbones.
Patty Souder, chair of the Agawam Cultural Council's SummerFest, said that like Sparks, she was looking to put together a schedule of diverse musical performers at this year's festival.
"The concerts provide an opportunity for the members of the community to be exposed to a variety of music," she said. "In providing the concerts, the community also has the chance to gather together with neighbors and friends."
She noted that this year's SummerFest will feature classical, jazz, country, Celtic rock and classic rock. Performers include Enter the Haggis on July 23, Jimmy Mazz on July 30, Kix 97.9 Country Night on Aug. 6, Handler & Levesque on Aug. 13 and Benny and the Jets, an Elton John tribute band, on Aug. 20.
All SummerFest concerts will take place on the Veteran's Green at 7 p.m. Those in attendance should bring their own lawn chairs and blankets. The Agawam Rotary Club will provide food and refreshments. In the event of rain the concerts will be moved to Agawam High School.
However, all KidsFest performances will be canceled in the event of rain.
KidsFest and SummerFest are free and open to the public.
For more information about KidsFest, call the Parks and Recreation Department at 821-0514.
For more information about SummerFest go to www.agawamcc.org.