Spring Fest offers good clean fun !

The event, a collaboration between Steen Sports Park, Klamath Freedom Celebration and Youth Rising, is an expansion of the Winter Fest event held last December at the same location. A wide assortment of activities are being planned, including sumo wrestling, an obstacle course, various relay races, basketball, a bounce house and carnival games. The activities are designed to cater to youth from elementary through high school ages as well as families.

Two new activities will be tested, for which Steen Sports Park hope to make a more permanent fixture in Klamath Falls – archery tag and knockerball. Archery tag incorporates foam-tipped arrows and bows in an enclosed course with bunkers and hiding areas, providing an experience similar to paintball or laser tag. Knockerball adds an unusual twist to soccer, placing each player inside a large protective bubble allowing a lot of safe and often hilarious collisions on par with protective sumo wrestling suits. In addition to archery tag competitions, targets will also be setup.

Carnival tradition

Any carnival of course needs food, and the traditional treats will be available such as cotton candy, hot dogs and drinks.

Dispelling the myth and all-too-common complaint from youth that there’s nothing to do, Spring Fest is the latest effort by Youth Rising to get kids active and involved. The organization, which launched roughly two years ago as a spin-off from Marta’s House, operates a downtown facility providing games and positive activities after school.

“Youth Rising is a community-driven program empowering youth to take control of their own lives so they can positively impact themselves and their peer group while being more active in the community,” explained Rich Ortiz, Youth Rising assistant director. “It’s a safe place to hang out after school during the time frame that has been shown to be the most critical when kids get into risky behaviors when parents may still be at work. Spring Fest is the latest in alternate activities we try to provide, giving people something different in ways to have fun.”

Giving back

The effort to provide positive activities for youth hits close to home for Doug Brown, founder of Klamath Freedom Celebration, who has sought to expand on his efforts to give back to the Klamath Falls community beyond veterans. Brown is active in coordinating community events surrounding Memorial Day, veterans Day, Fourth of July, and the annual Basin Brew & Q, and sees Spring Fest as one more way to give back.

“I saw that there was something missing, one area I’ve always wanted to provide to the community, beyond veterans and fighting cancer, is something for the youth,” said Brown. “I’m honored to have been asked to be on the board of directors and I love being a partner with Steen Sports Park to bring in activities to make our community better. This is something I fell in love with, we just want to make the park successful and along the way make the community more successful.”

Activity trends

Adding archery tag and knockerball are the result of Basin United Soccer Club President Mark Dodson’s recent trip to Atlantic City to experience the latest and greatest activities growing in popularity in other communities. Dodson spent a week trying out new sports and activities that could be brought to Steen Sports Park, while learning from other community representatives from across the country how they coordinate events and regional tournaments. Knockerball groups have already launched in Portland, Eugene and Bend, and Dodson likes being at the forefront of new trends.

“As the largest privately funded athletic facility in the Pacific Northwest, we’re trying to find different avenues and more opportunities to get people out there,” said Dodson. “Knockerball is one more thing to try. We want to provide any sort of physical activity that gets people together, these are the kind of things that could be rented for a birthday party. For the size of this community we are very fortunate to have a facility of this size, and we are going after more regional events.”

Teen volunteers

Staying in line with Youth Rising’s philosophy, Ortiz is particularly proud that around half of all volunteers operating activities at Spring Fest will be teenagers from the community.

“We want to make sure that young people are actively involved,” added Ortiz.

Net proceeds from the Spring Fest will be split between Youth Rising and Klamath Freedom Celebration, helping both organizations continue to serve the Klamath Falls community. Admission for the event is $5, which includes 10 carnival tickets. Additional carnival tickets may be purchased on site. Additional fees and height restrictions are placed on knockerball participation.

For more information visit www.youth-rising.com or www.steensportspark.com.

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