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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Readers Blog: OnMilwaukee.com Intern Team: Courtney Morgan

How I spent opening day in the kids' area (and survived)

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When I was younger, I didn't spend a lot of time at Summerfest. Or rather - I didn't spend a lot of time in the kids' area. By the time I started going to Summerfest, it was mostly to drag a very harassed parent to a stage for a band that I had to see. Unfortunately for me, the kids' area was so often overlooked - and let me tell you, the kids' area is cool.

If you're asking why a 21-year-old girl is just getting in touch with the kids' area, I assure you my reasons are 100 percent kosher. Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design requires that all students take a Service Learning class and volunteer at a local non-profit; for my summer course, I chose to volunteer with Artists Working in Education. For those of you who have never heard of A.W.E., they're pretty fantastic; their mission is to bring the arts to kids who might not be exposed to it otherwise, and they can typically be found in schools and parked with some super cool art vans around the Milwaukee Parks. You can check out their website here for a full schedule.

Part of their mission (as well as mine) for this summer is to bring a little art to Summerfest. Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday A.W.E. will be in the tent right next to UB The Band (across from the Cost Cutter's Crazy Hair booth - which, judging by the wild colors on absolutely everyone, is pretty popular) from open to 4 p.m. with fun craft projects for kids of all ages.

Today, our focus was making foil rock stars.

"Don't worry though, guys," Our fearless volunteer coordinator said, "It's opening day, so there probably won't be a whole ton of kids. You can take a break whenever you need to!"

If only someone had thought to knock on wood. My first day in the kids' area was the most exhausting experience I've ever had at Summerfest - and that includes the days when I used to sweat it out in baggy black pants by the rocks. A non-stop stream of kids twisted, molded, sculpted and pinched aluminum foil into everything from action figures to Barbie dolls, even making their own clothes out of fabric scraps and pipe cleaners. It was amazing to see how excited the kids got over some googly eyes, and even more so to see how excited I got over googly eyes.

Despite being in near constant motion, it was easy to keep a smile plastered on my face and a tube of tacky glue in my hand. By the end of the day, I was filled with a belly full of hastily eaten sour cream and chive fries, a hand full of half dried glue and a renewed appreciation for the energy of children. Like so many things in summer, it was nostalgic in the best possible way - half the fun was making my own foil rock stars as demonstrations. I highly recommend that everyone try getting down and dirty with some fabric scraps and googly eyes whenever they need to de-stress - it's worth it.

For those of you bringing kids to Summerfest, stop by and see us over the weekend as we use collage, printmaking, color and drawing to help your little ones create unique Artists Trading Cards to swap and share with others. 

Are you an adult looking to have some crafty fun? Well have no fear, A.W.E. has a series of AWEsome events. No, really - they are awesome, and they're also workshops led by professional artists to help you get more in touch with art. Not to mention the kid in you.

Confidential to lovers of MKE fun: To everyone looking for things to do in Milwaukee, follow my new intern account on Twitter @OMCCourtney for an up-to-date play-by-play of all sorts of fun events!

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