AGAWAM A summer of music, magic, fun and laughter for children of every age is all set to begin, as KidsFest kicks off its festivities this week.
The Agawam Parks and Recreation Department is sponsoring its third annual KidsFest this year beginning on July 11, at 11 a.m., on Veteran's Green, with the Vic and Sticks band.
"This is our third year doing KidsFest because of the success of SummerFest and I thought that it was important to offer something for the children during the day," Chris Sparks, director of Agawam Parks and Recreation said. "This is something that I look forward to every year as we try to offer a variety of different acts."
Sparks went on to state that in the past KidsFest has hosted a variety of different acts, such as magicians, puppeteers, and even yo-yo demonstrations. This year the lineup includes three dates, with three very different performances.
According to Sparks, the first performance date, July 11, consists of a new act that KidsFest has never seen before: a vaudeville act by Vicki and Rick Ethier of the band Vic and Sticks.
"I write 95 percent of our material and a lot of the songs are stories that are set to music," Vicki Ethier, of Vic and Sticks said. "I write with a comical spin with a punch line at the end of each song. We like to have positive messages of kindness, sharing, and loving the folks that you are with."
Ethier also stated that the sound of the band is comprised of instruments played by her and her husband. She plays the guitar, bass, ukulele, harmonica and kazoo, while her husband plays percussion instruments such as the washboard and percussion rack.
"We make a lot of noise which is good cause the kids enjoy it because it's a very high-energy show," Ethier said. "We bring up some of the kids to dance and play instruments. They play shakers, tambourines, bongos, and noisemakers."
However Ethier also stated that her and her husband really bill themselves as a family show that is great for children all the way up to seniors.
But the fun for children does not stop at Vic and Sticks, as the next date for KidsFest is July 25, at 11 a.m., when the veteran magician George Saterial comes to perform his one-man magic show, Magic by George.
"This show is a good time for parents and children to sit down and enjoy something together," Saterial said. "There is a lot of comedy involved as the magic and comedy are on two levels. The adults get the cerebral humor while the children get the slapstick humor."
Saterial went on to state that sometimes in his act it will seem that the magic is going awry, but that is the comedy, and that the magic always comes in to save the day.
According to Saterial, tricks in the act include two white balloons that turn into live birds and the highlight of the show is when a random child picked from the audience gets to float in midair.
The third and final day of KidsFest is on Aug. 8, at 11 a.m., featuring an act by the family musician Bill Shontz, CEO and founder of www.childrensmusichalloffame.com.
"People are always looking for something to do with their kids other than the bowling alley and this is an entertaining activity where parents can enjoy the music as much as kids," Shontz said. "This is why I got into children's music because when my child was small I looked for music that we could both enjoy but I couldn't find anything. Then I decided that I could do it better myself and that decision changed my life."
According to Shontz, he has been performing for over 30 years, and his music spans from jazz to rock 'n' roll, with a lot of humor and participation from the audience.
"This is just a concert for families to have fun and get together and laugh and sing along," Shontz said.
According to Sparks, the ongoing success of attendance and participation from the community is what has prompted the continuation of KidsFest each year.
"As long as there is continued support we will continue to offer shows," Sparks said.