Businesses, community members bond over Family Fair

It’s not often SpongeBob can be seen out of his home in Bikini Bottom, but this Saturday he’ll be spending time with Pullman’s Tase T. Lentil at the 18th Annual Family Fair.

The Family Fair gathers organizations from around the Palouse to showcase their services to families in the area. This year, the YMCA and Palouse Alliance for Healthy Individuals, Families and Communities will coordinate 39 agencies from Community Child Care Center to WSU’s International Center at Lincoln Middle School.

“A lot of families don’t know the services the Palouse has to offer,” said Colleen Hinman, interim CEO for the YMCA at WSU. “This fair is a way to bring them all together.”

Before it was known as the Family Fair, it was called the Week of the Young Child Fair and aimed mainly at families with young children. The fair was a highlight of a national version held every April.

The fair not only changed its name but also changed the focus to target the people across the Latah and Whitman counties, informing them of local services.

The fair includes informational resources for the parents along with various activities for the enjoyment of the kids. These activities range from dance and gymnastics performances to the YMCA Fun Run associated with their National Healthy Kids Day recognition.

“The Family Fair is a community event that really is done collaboratively,” said Sue Kreikemeier, director of BOOST Collaborative and volunteer at the fair.

Though titled Family Fair, there are activities and vendors that would appeal to college students. Students showed up to volunteer but expressed the importance of being a part of the Pullman community instead of always interacting with same-aged peers, Kreikemeier said.

“Pullman, being a university town, has a lot of students that stay for a while and leave,” Kreikemeier said. “If you’re new to the community it takes a little longer to learn about these services.”

Kate Hellmann, coordinator for the WSU International Center, said most college students are so focused on academics that they don’t take into account the things that happen outside the classroom. These experiences are equally if not more important to studying in a class.

“We at WSU want students to feel like they’re part of the community,” Hellmann said. “This is one way to help.”

This applies to the international students as well as the domestic. The International Center will showcase programs offered such as Engage the World and the Friends and Family Program, which pairs up international students with a local Pullman family, so they can get an understanding of American family life.

While families make up the predominant attendance, Hinman said the event is open to everyone and is an important community need. Through her involvement she has discovered services she didn’t know existed.

“I think a lot of people get really ingrained in campus culture and don’t take the time to know the town,” she said. “I think it’s really good for students to come and discover what Pullman has.”

The Family Fair will take place at Lincoln Middle School from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The event is free and refreshments will be available for purchase from Subway.