Heart Mountain Interpretive Center is hosting its first Children’s Day Festival on Saturday, May 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This community centered event is open to the public with an admission fee of $15 per car.
Out of the nearly 14,000 Japanese Americans who were incarcerated at Heart Mountain during WWII, nearly one third were children. Children’s Day, or Kodomo no Hi, is a traditional Japanese holiday and has been celebrated in Japan in some form since the 7th century. The holiday celebrates the growth, happiness, and personalities of children. In this spirit, Heart Mountain Interpretive Center invites the local community to attend their first Children’s Day Festival. The event will feature crafts and games that would have been familiar to children at the camp in the 1940s.
Five community partners will host different activities at the event. Science Kids will host a planting and gardening activity, the Wyoming Episcopal Service Corps will have a kite-making and flying station, and staff from the Homesteader Museum will lead attendees in playing popular games from the 1940s. Storytime and crafts will be provided by the Park County Library, and Meeteetse Museums will have a station about animals of the Bighorn Basin. Heart Mountain staff and volunteers will be hosting even more activities and fun.
At each station, visitors will learn something about what life was like for children who grew up inside the Heart Mountain camp. Attendees completing each activity will receive a special prize. Nora James, the VISTA museum educator emphasized the community nature of the event. “We planned Children’s Day with the community in mind,” said James. “Each of our partners receives a portion of the admission fee, so it’s a great way to have fun and support a lot of local organizations at once.”
No Children’s Day celebration would be complete without the flying of brightly colored koinobori, or carp-shaped flags. Japanese and Japanese American families typically fly a carp flag for each member of their family on the holiday. Koinobori will be fluttering all around the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center during the event, and attendees can purchase their own flags to take home. Sweet treats will also be available for purchase from Andy’s Donuts.