HORSEHEADS, N.Y. (WETM) — Hundreds of local families and dozens of community organizations came together for the annual Strong Kids Safe Kids Festival at the Chemung County Fairgrounds.

According to Strong Kids Safe Kids Vice Chair Nicole Parks, this annual festival began in Downtown Elmira in 1984, and it’s designed to promote health and safety awareness among kids and their families. The festival outgrew its original venue. Strong Kids Safe Kids was hosted at Elmira College and Eldridge Park before finding its home at the Chemung County Fairgrounds. The fairgrounds have hosted this event for the past 15 years, and the event takes up most of the space. This year, about 50 organizations were present at the festival.

“Anything that has anything to do with supporting and keeping families safe is here,” said Parks.

Local police departments, fire departments, ambulances, and Arnot Health were at the fairgrounds to interact with families. Some of the other organizations there probably wouldn’t be the first things to come to mind when you hear “health and safety,” though. A few different manufacturing agencies had booths to get children and young people interested in trades. Additionally, three local credit unions (Visions, Corning, and First Heritage) had tables to help teach families about budgeting and saving for homes. Other educational opportunities included 4H members teaching attendees about agriculture and a school bus on the grounds for learning how to exit a bus during an emergency.

In the past, Strong Kids Safe Kids gave away free helmets. Parks said that the people involved with Strong Kids Safe Kids noticed that community members struggle to afford school supplies for their children, so the organization shifted gears and began giving away free school supplies for school-aged kids attending up to sixth grade. The event’s sponsors helped purchase school supplies, and Catholic Charities handed out backpacks at its booth this year.

“All of us have had our turn at parenting, and there’s no real manual, but thank God we have great support here in Chemung County,” said Parks about all of the community organizations that have been involved with Strong Kids Safe Kids Over the years.

At the event’s peak, Parks said that over 100 different organizations and groups had booths, activities, or exhibits at the annual festival. The pandemic caused things to scale back, but event organizers are working towards growing the festival again.

To learn more about Strong Kids Safe Kids and to view some family resources, visit the Strong Kids Safe Kids website.