From the very first festival at Champion Horse Pulling Grounds, special attention has been paid to the children who attend. Hiawatha is organized to be a family-oriented festival, with a goal of introducing the Hiawatha “experience” at a young age in order to foster a lifelong love of traditional music.
With four generations now attending the festival, it can safely be said it has been a success. Today the children’s area has tons of activities and crafts for the kids. Artists selected specifically for this area perform music for families, featuring songs, stories, and dance. In the craft tent kids paint, create tie-dye clothing and instruments. The weekend’s family friendly activities culminates with the annual kid’s parade, where the children dress up in costumes and play their homemade instruments in front of the main stage. For many attendees, the children’s parade is the highlight of the festival.
“Me, I’m a sucker for the kid’s parade. After years of watching the sons and daughters of my friends strumming away on their oatmeal box banjotars, it still plucks out a sappy tune on my heartstrings. I think it symbolizes the spirit of the festival; the tradition of making instruments and playing music with a group of people for the sheer enjoyment of it. Put that into the hands of a bunch of kids and you have the future.”