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story.lead_photo.caption FILE photo: Lilliam Theis gets her face painted at a past year's KidsFest in downtown Jefferson City. The event, which had to be canceled the last two years, returns Saturday — this time at Riverside Park. Photo by News Tribune / News Tribune.

After having to cancel the last two years, the JC Parks' popular KidsFest event is back this year — this time in a new location with a host of new activities for the whole family.

KidsFest and Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Days is on the schedule 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at various locations throughout Ellis-Porter Riverside Park and amphitheater. The free event is sponsored by JC Parks, Bass Pro Shops, Healthy Blue and KRCG-TV.

"Fortunately, the weather is looking great for Saturday so we're really looking forward to bringing this event back to the community," said Phil Stiles, special events program manager with the Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department.

With flooding in 2019 and pandemic concerns in 2020, Saturday's event is a return to normal for JC Parks. It's also a way to showcase the renovations at Riverside Park and the new amphitheater.

"We just felt like with the improvements that were done out at the park, we thought it would be a good fit for the event, and having it in a park setting really kind of adds to the feel of the event as well," Stiles said.

Unlike downtown, where the event was previous held, the park location provides new activity opportunities.

Stiles noted Bass Pro will be utilizing the pool at Riverside Park for kayaking, and having the fixed stage at the amphitheater will give more prominence to the various performances, which include:

Muse Theater Company's Itsy Bitsy Broadway: 10:05-10:20 a.m.

5-6-7-8 Dancenter: 10:25-10:45 a.m.

Building Community Bridges: 10:50-11:05 a.m.

Wonders of Wildlife Birds of Prey Show: 11:10-11:40 a.m.

Council for Drug Free Youth: 11:45-11:55 a.m. and 1-1:10 p.m.

Raye of Rainn (hula hoop demonstration): noon-12:10 p.m.

Art of Martial Arts: 12:10-12:25 p.m.

Mid-MO Magic Show with Gerry Tritz: 12:30-12:55 p.m.

Royal Tigerettes of Jefferson City: 1:15-1:30 p.m.

Mid-MO Conservatory of Dance: 1:35-1:50 p.m.

Other activities throughout the park Saturday include archery and casting lessons from Bass Pro; a petting zoo and pony rides (which cost $8); bounce houses; food vendors; and a bubble bus, which is a colorful bus that plays music and shoots out big bubbles for children to play with — a crowd favorite, Stiles noted.

Stiles added there will also be a slew of vehicles on display, including a fire truck, police car and school bus. And new this year, the MU Children's Hospital helicopter will land at the park for attendees to tour, something that wasn't possible when KidsFest was held downtown.

Parking for Saturday's event will be available at the park's ballfield, swimming pool and pavilion lots.

When held downtown, Stiles said the event drew 5,000-8,000 attendees, and he hopes to see about that this year at the park.

"We're looking forward to having people come out and enjoy the park and enjoy the day," he said.

For more information, visit jcparks.com or the JC Parks KidsFest Facebook event.

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