Crowds Cheer The Return Of CALF
Abilene is emerging from the pandemic with celebrations that got put on hold last year. When organizers cancelled the 2020 Children's Art and Literacy Festival, they immediately made plans to honor the same children's book illustrator at this year's event and took an extra year to plan the fun.
The first heat wave of the Abilene summer did not keep crowds away from downtown for this year's Children's Art and Literacy Festival. Families with strollers, wagons and umbrellas filled the sidewalks of Cypress Street for the Storybook Parade Thursday evening. Some families have been enjoying the tradition for two generations. Lola Zvolanek started coming with her parents and grandparents when the festival started in 2012. "I really like the shows inside the Paramount,” Lola said. “They're always really fun, and the storybook garden is really cool."
Lola and her family were disappointed when organizers had to cancel last year's event due to safety concerns surrounding COVID-19. So were Kay Hartgraves and Pat McCleskey. They both said they were glad to be back in the happy crowd gathered for the festival, "It's exciting to see people out and about and not to have on our mask when we're outside," Hartgraves enthused. Her friend Pat joined her excitement, "Amen to that! It was so sad when they had to cancel it last year, and I know they waited until the last possible minute. It was the best choice."
Before the parade kicked off, Rodney and Yajarah Covington's family found a shady spot in the 90 degree heat. These first-time festival goers look forward to several events: "Like the kids being able to see the calf, and have fun watching the parade go by, and the food trucks." And Yajarah Covington said she was excited to feel a little normal again, "It feels great, and then to have people come up and talk to you. Everything is regular like how it was before."
Thursday's events wrapped up with the unveiling of this year's addition to Storybook Garden outside the Abilene Convention Center. The new "Otis and the Calf" sculpture created by Steve Neves is based on the illustrations of author and artist Loren Long, who is the featured illustrator for this year's event.
The festival continues through Friday and Saturday with book readings, train rides, workshops, crafts and performances throughout downtown Abilene. Find more on the event website.