Thursday, September 20, 2012

Coming Attraction: ZamFest Kids Arts & Music Festival

When it comes to planning kids' festivals, some organizers draw inspiration from children's TV or even family-friendly events around the city.

Not Paul Kim, creator of the annual ZamFest Arts & Music Festival for kids. His inspiration? The uber-hip and decidedly un-kid-centric Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, which draws thousands of hipsters young and old to the Coachella Valley every year.

"It was great how (the Coachella organizers) focused on the experience itself, and it wasn't a giant commercial event," Kim said.

And that's exactly what he wanted to bring to the Los Angeles area -- not only for little Angelenos ages 10 and under, but also for his daughter, Zoe, who's now 8.

ZamFest, now in its second year and taking place on Sunday, Sept. 23, is a kids festival that offers a variety of interactive games and activities geared toward the right side of the brain, Kim says. Kids, he adds, are being shorted by LAUSD, what with all of the cuts, especially to arts and music classes, and he wanted to offer something to families that was equally as important as 2+2=4.

Not only that, but he was also less than impressed with other kids' festivals around town.

"I would take my daughter to kids' festivals, and over and over again I'd be disappointed," he says. "The focus wasn't on the kids. There would be booths of people selling stuff and maybe a bouncy house. I was really inspired by Coachella and thought that someone needed to put together what they did -- where festivalgoers are engaged with the experience and not the bottom line."

So Kim replaced the vendors with creative-based businesses (songwriting, music, paper-plane making) that would engage kids on a creative level.

He decided to call it ZamFest, both for Generation Z (aka, our kids now) and for his daughter, Zoe. While last year's festival took place in Long Beach to attract visitors from both L.A. and Orange Counties, this year, the festival will be firmly situated in West L.A., at University High School.

And that's not the only change. This year, to accommodate kids who are completely wrapped up in activities, Kim has gotten rid of the stage for live music, instead opting for a street performer feel, a la Santa Monica's 3rd Street Promenade. That way, kids can walk by and see the performers on their level instead of having to look up at a stage.

Sounds like an event that can inspire the kiddos -- especially his own.

"I've tried to include (Zoe) as much as possible," Kim says. "She helped design the T-shirt and logo."

And last year, he adds, "she was running around like she owned the place."

ZamFest Arts & Music Festival for Kids
University High School
11800 Ohio Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Sunday, Sept. 23 (10 a.m.-5 p.m.)
Tickets: $5 (pre-sale); $8 (at the door); Free (kids 3 and younger)
Activity Tickets: $5 for 5 tickets; $7 for 12; $12 for 20; $25 for unlimited wristband

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