MARTINEZ -- Waterfront Park in Martinez is being transformed into a world of wonderment this upcoming Labor Day weekend as Bay Area FamilyFest debuts there with myriad rides, games and live entertainment -- all tailored to youth and their respective grown-ups, ready for a last blast of summer fun.
The festival is featuring 20 carnival rides, a three-story zip line, sports games, a pony ride and petting zoo, Radio Disney, Kid's Town America, face painting and ample food fare options.
Producer Jay Bedecarre -- also producer of the ever-popular KidFest which celebrates its 25th year in 2014 -- went looking for a venue when Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek was no longer a viable option in 2011.
"This was a mad, six-week rush to get ready," said Bedecarre, who found his local cheerleader in Leanne Peterson, executive director of Main Street Martinez.
"There are a lot of events in Martinez that have a kid-oriented component, but there isn't one that is strictly family—oriented," she said. "I was excited about it coming here and helping him navigate the city's waters."
Among the weekend's performers is live folk music by JimBo Trout, who with guitar, banjo, harmonica and kazoo will bring back old-fashioned, sing-around-the-campfire songs that have slipped off the radar.
And Labor Day -- with its ties to American folk music -- was the optimal time to do it.
"There will be a lot of classic Americana for kids," says the product of the Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie era, citing a boyhood favorite, "I Went to the Animal Fair" that his grandfather sang to him. "The waterfront was a good fit, picnicking, getting together in community places, family and friends, all that good stuff."
Trout will share the stage with Pier 39 popular street entertainers, the local talents of award-winning children's music performers, Sandi and Stevie, along with music, dance and martial arts performances.
Bringing FamilyFest to Martinez quickly won the enthusiasm of City Councilwoman AnaMarie Avila Farias.
"The whole essence of it is a family-oriented festival. It's in sync with our goals. I thought this would be a wonderful addition to our community," she says.
Included in the festival's pep talks about staying drug- and alcohol-free, and the importance of wearing safety gear and doing your best, a local BMX stunt team will be wowing youth with their back flips, no whips and 360-degree tail whips as they sail off five-foot ramps.
"You're seeing guys doing things you don't normally see," says Trail Gypsy of Clayton-based TGC Action Sports of the popularity of the demonstration.
What: Bay Area FamilyFest
When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 31-Monday, Sept. 2
Where: Martinez Waterfront Park at Martinez Regional Shoreline, Joe DiMaggio Drive and North Court Street
Cost: $6, or $5 with a canned food donation for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano; seniors 65 and older, and babies under 24 months are free