Special festival corner caters to kids

At Kidlandia, children can paint T-shirts and make their own buttons, headbands and hairclips



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When: Friday through Sunday

Where: Royal Athletic Park

Tickets: Rifflandia park admission (kids 10 and under are free), plus suggested donation of $2-$5 per participant, with proceeds going to War Child Canada.

Rifflandia is no stranger to growth. The music festival has not only expanded its lineup, venues and audience - but also the size and scope of daughter festival Artlandia, a foray into the visual art world that includes more local artists and projects than ever in 2012.

So in its fifth year, it seems only fitting to add something entirely new.

The inaugural Kidlandia gives the young sons and daughters of music fans a place of their own on the grounds of Royal Athletic Park. Poke your head into one of the tents and you'll find an interactive creative hub, where kids can make their own buttons, headbands and hair clips, as well as paint the specially designed Rifflandia T-shirts for kids. And never fear, there will be face paint.

"There's a lot of parents out there who, I think, long for an event like this, that has music they appreciate and like, but something that they can actually share with their children, too," said festival director Nick Blasko.

Last year, Rifflandia offered free admission for the first time to kids 10 and under. The success of the new policy made it apparent to organizers that many festival-goers are parents.

"We just thought this year, why not embrace that further, build more of an environment for them and serve them more," he said.

Children's art educator Rachel Boult is taking the reins.

"Rachel is a longtime friend and artist who has been doing great things with kids' art for many years," Blasko said.

Boult is a children's author and illustrator (Sleepy Lion Lullaby) and also runs Shyness & Bloom, a children's art studio in Cadboro Bay.

"I've designed it to be for the kids," she said of the studio. "It's their studio, so they sort of direct whatever projects they want to do. All the materials are visible and accessible to them, so if they get an idea, they know where to go to find stuff to make it happen."

Boult makes a point of documenting the kids' experiences by photographing them at work, recording the classes and transcribing the chatter, as well as adding her own observations about their process.

"It's for the parents," she said. "This is their creative process and this is the most important reason they're here - they're little minigeniuses and they know what they're doing. And I want that to be the focus and what is valued most of all. Maybe their art is beautiful and maybe it's not, but that's not what it's about."

If you drop the Rifflandia name at registration you can snag a 20 per cent discount at the studio, whose group sizes rarely exceed five.

At Rifflandia, on the other hand, she's prepared for 300 to 500 kids over the course of three days.

"Adults can come in, too. Let's invite kids of all ages, why not?" she said. "It's just to help everybody get in the festival spirit."


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