I wasn’t sure about expending $30 on a day ticket for Warrnambool’s annual Fun4Kids event, but after being roped into to going with my eight month-old grandson who is beguiled by those colourful owls Hoot and Hootabelle , I have to admit it was a fun experience.
Warrnambool City Council estimates some 20,000 patrons attend Fun4Kids which is a not-for-profit event. The event runs over 7 days, and a day-ticket provides access to performers as well as onsite, interactive entertainment. Issued with an event stamp you can leave and return as you wish, and as some acts appear twice per day if the kids are getting tired you can take them home and return again later.
As an earth-hugging hippy I liked the natural-resource objects at the event, and the things that had been up cycled. The little toddler’s boots made into tactile succulent gardens were a hit with Nanna and grandson, and gave us inspiration for a project when we got home.
I also liked that walk areas are plenty-wide, especially for those with prams and a string of toddlers in tow and juggling full hands. And I appreciated the attendants in abundance, to direct lost Nannas to all the important places (seating, toilets, food and more seating).
We made a bee-line for the room-length giant sandpit just so we could orientate ourselves and it was a hit with children as they can run hell-for-leather and toss things around without doing any damage.
With a little babe-in-arms we went to explore the toddlers play area. It was surprisingly peaceful in such a crowded event. It was a tactile area, with colourful, and natural objects. The hanging gardens were a favorite with my grandson and I liked that there were plenty of hay bales covered with natural, colourful materials for seating.
There were playtables for the kids that had plenty of objects for play, or arts and craft making material. It was the sort of area where kids instantly feel comfortable but with heaps to occupy their minds and hands. And there were plenty of attendants in the area to help with crisis like ours where we forgot to bring the feeding spoon and had a hungry toddler who wasn’t keen to wait.
The animal area seemed a big hit with families, and I liked that children (and Nannas!) were encourage to hold and touch the baby lambs, guinea pigs, chickens and other nursery animals. I gave the whopping big snake a miss, but there were little mice for children to handle, chooks and alpaca’s to visit as well as lizards and other crawlers. I was very impressed with the young attendants who seemed both kind and patient with all the children crowding round.
In the bug-world area there were plenty of interactive opportunities for children who were having fun, but I was happy to give that one a miss. A big plus for me was the Coates-sponsored playroom made up of massive blocks of all shapes which children can use to build with. It was heaving with children who seemed to thoroughly enjoy being buried among the over-sized blocks.
But of course it was Hoot and Hootabelle that was the center of attraction for us, and I was impressed that there was reasonable room for families (and prams) at the well-attended stage area. The glittering disco-lights and massive glowing stars captured my grandson’s attention, till the (slightly loud) but energetic warm-up lass introduced Hoot and Hootabelle. They are so big, so colourful! Children loved every minute of the act and there were little tackers dancing around everywhere.
We didn’t get around much further as my grandson was tired, but there were plenty of food options, though I can’t say if prices were reasonable as we didn’t shop. But I can promise you they had the best ever fairy-floss maker in the bowling arena, where families and friends can have a game of bowls, play the machines or join in star-weaving.
I am not sure about the Scarecrow-dressed attendants who help kids search for lost grown-ups, they are a bit on the freaky side for my personal taste, but hey, everyone has different ideas.
We had a fun day, there was lots we didn’t get to see but I thought it a great experience and the event seems to have matured as the years passed, offering areas of entertainment for kids of all ages.
And its a good time of year to be in Warrnambool. Though it is winter- chilly (dress warmly!) the winds usually hold at bay until the onset of the ‘September Gales’ (which really start in August and go through till the start of summer!). And it was warm enough in Fun4Kids to ditch coats and scarfs. Comfortable shoes are a must. And after the event there is always the chance you will see whales at Logan’s Beach east of Warrnambool’s Lady Bay.