DECATUR — Two-year-old Averyona Douglas was a little scared before her first face painting.
Her mother, Bridgette Kearns, was a little nervous as well. “I’ll probably go with the cat or tiger,” Kearns said. “It’s kind of quick.”
Mom and daughter visited the Kids Arts Activities tent during the 51st edition of Arts in Central Park by the Decatur Area Arts Council. Council volunteers from various groups and organizations assisted children creating fun art projects such as pencil wraps, mustache or lips masks, sidewalk chalk drawings and a rubber band weaving called Funloom. Other artists were caricature artist Joe McGuire, who traveled from Metamora to draw the children.
The event is sponsored by Striglos Just for Kids.
“We sponsor the office supplies and the craft idea,” said store manager Sue Miller. “The arts council gives us these lovely people to help, and I show them what we’re doing, and we roll.”
Austin Kearney’s mother, Mary Kearney, knew the arts event was an appropriate opportunity to let her son explore his creative side.
“If it’s trouble, he’s up to it,” she said.
The Garfield Montesorri School kindergartener found the most interesting activity to be the glue and glitter mustache mask: “Because I got to design it,” he said.
Families may have been surprised to find the Zoo Lady didn’t have any animals with her. Instead, she created them. Saturday’s Zoo Lady was actually face painter Mattie Rogers. Rogers painted cheetahs, cats, spiders and other creatures on two children at a time.
“It takes me about a minute and a half per child,” she said.
Rogers is one of 10 artists hired by the Zoo Lady’s Mickey Lower. Lower is scheduled to be the Zoo Lady for Sunday’s event.
Rogers created a cheetah from Anna Schmidt, 9, of Mount Zion. But the little girl wasn’t sure what sound to make for her new identity.
“Meow,” she said to her grandpa, Joseph Sidwell. “But I don’t know.”
Children continued exploring their artistic side at the Art Shop for Kids in the Madden Arts Center, across the street from Central Park. Children were allowed to purchase merchandise similar to what their parents bought from the Arts in Central Park art vendors. The shop is designed for children younger than 12.
“But we haven’t turned anybody away,” said volunteer Jessica Carnahan, adding “As long as they’re children.”
Many of the volunteers in the art shop were also children. Carnahan’s son Ian, 13, had a job to do as well.
“I’ve been organizing,” he said. “I made sure the art doesn’t overlap.”
The merchandise is art from the same artists on display in Central Park.
“Maybe they won’t add as much detail as they would in their booth,” said Decatur Area Arts Council administrative director and Ian’s grandma, Stella Carnahan. “But it is still the same quality.” The prices range from $3 to $5 per piece. “It’s priced so that the kids can buy,” she said.
“You could buy some of the same pieces in the larger displays,” said Kathy Falk, building attendant for the arts council. “Some of the prices are the same as the other displays or they discounted it just to have it in here.”
But parents aren’t allowed to influence their children’s opinions.
“You just let the kids walk around and figure out what their tastes are,” Jessica Carnahan said. “The kids love it.”