Vendors and community members filled the Golden Valley High School gymnasium on Sunday, eager for information and giveaway goodies at this year’s Kids Expo hosted by the Child & Family Center.
This year, the Kids Expo featured 50 booths, a DJ and a photo booth as well as martial arts performances and a live animal show. The expo chose a purple theme to highlight Domestic Violence Awareness Month and featured special crafts to help educate children and bring awareness to the subject.
“As a community organization that deals primarily with children, we wanted to provide a positive, free event where parents could find different resources,” said Cheryl Jones, vice president of marketing and community outreach for the Child & Family Center, which created the event 16 years ago.
“We look at it as positive reinforcement because if you involve kids in extracurricular activities then they’re less likely to engage in activities that they shouldn’t,” she said.
The Child & Family Center serves about 1,000 clients per month up to age 25, and the expo also serves as a fundraiser to help fill in the gaps that are not met by the center’s government grants. Depending on the number of vendors present, the expo can raise between $15,000 and $25,000 per year.
Though Jones said the size of the Kids Expo event ebbs and flows each year, especially with the rise of online marketing and outreach, she said there is still a strong group of dedicated community members who help make the event happen.
“The exhibitors who participate really enjoy it and the families that come always have a good time,” she said. “One year we took a break and didn’t hold the expo, and a lot of people asked us where the event went, so it’s obviously something the community looks forward to.”
Child & Family Center CEO Joan Aschoff said that, despite the heavy push online in the digital age, there is still value to interacting with businesses face to face.
“You might see a business advertised online or in a magazine, but until you really talk to the people involved, you won’t fully understand what they’re offering and how you can benefit from it,” Aschoff said. “Besides the face-to-face information, it’s fun. We have kids here playing with drums and watching demonstrations and you can’t get that from an advertisement.
Mike Demenno, who was manning the Remo drums booth, said this was the fifth year Remo has been part of the Kids Expo and the goals of both organizations to help enrich children’s lives meshed perfectly.
“Any time you can get a lot of resources under one roof and make it easy for people to engage with them, especially parents, and that’s why this expo is so great,” Demenno said. “It’s amazing to interact with these kids. They’ll come up and drum and we get each other fired up.”
Jessica Bailey attends the expo every year and said she likes coming to the event to learn about the new opportunities available to her daughters, and as they grow older, she said she would like to see the expo incorporate more events geared toward teenagers as well as young children.
“I really like meeting and talking to the new vendors each year and exploring the different opportunities and places to visit in Santa Clarita,” said Bailey’s daughter Samantha. “Making eye contact and getting a connection with the different people really brings you in and gives a good experience.”