It's a Bay Area tradition that's long been sure to please.
Every Memorial Day weekend, children and their families have come to count on a Concord venue for rides, face painting and carnival games.
Given its 23-year span, children whose parents once performed with local dance, martial arts and music troupes at Bay Area KidFest are now up on stage during the live entertainment that starts off with Sponge Bob in the morning and goes nonstop till 6 p.m.
This years festivities include seeing the only traveling live shark encounter in the United States. The audience will get an up close view of a former circus stuntman swimming with the sharks in a 7,000-gallon tank during four daily shows.
And other shows daily include Da Island Way music and dance, "The Lion Dance" with the Concord Kung Fu Academy, Clayton Bikes BMX Stunt Team, Music Box Theatre Company, Ballet Folklorico and more.
Other shows are presented at various times during the weekend, including the Ronald McDonald Show and the Radio Disney Road Crew on Saturday only; and Hoop Play of hula hoop fun Sunday and Monday.
A special Memorial Day ceremony is planned at noon Monday.
For the second time, there will be a large area amid the more than 100 arts and crafts vendors that is dedicated to small children. The 10 canopies will feature bowling, golf, kaleidoscopes, tunnels and musical instruments to amuse the younger set.
"Every time I went to a fair, it
KidFest visitors can count on a community service bent, with an admission discount for donating a can of food for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.
This year, Tesoro Golden Eagle Refinery will give a matching dollar for every can of food that's donated, up to $5,000.
Parents and children can paint to their hearts content on a 20-foot long washable Monster Mural with an altruistic theme, suggesting ways that they can contribute food in their community.
"It's like a giant coloring book," says Jay Bedecarre of Bay Area Festivals, the longtime producer of the three-day event.
And, they can count on there always been something new.
This year's festivities include witnessing a Live Shark Encounter at one of four shows daily. And rides include a 225-foot zip line.
Supporting the community and "seeing all the kids," is what brings Alicia Fajardo, event coordinator for Astound, back each year.
"It's always a big attraction," she says, "and every year it gets better and better."
What: Bay Area KidFest
When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Monday, May 26-28
Where: Mt. Diablo High School, 2450 Grant St., Concord
Admission: $6 ($5 with a can of food for Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano); Babies under 24 months and seniors 65 and older are free
Information: For a complete list of shows, attractions and times, visit www.KidFestConcord.com or call 925-671-3287