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Abilene Children's Art & Literacy Festival begins Thursday

The downtown festival will feature best-selling illustrator and author Loren Long.
Credit: ACAC

The Children’s Art & Literacy Festival is back on track this summer with tractors, trucks and bats of all kinds at the festival June 10-12.

CALF will offer a variety of books by best-selling illustrator and author Loren Long. Downtown Abilene will feature costumed characters, dramatic readings and performers at 17 venues.

According to a press release, postponing last year’s CALF event because of safety concerns with the pandemic was one of the hardest decisions the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council had to make.

“We missed seeing all the families downtown wearing their CALF shirts and taking photos with our costumed characters,” the council's executive director Lynn Barnett said in the press release. “But it was more important to keep everyone safe. We’re thrilled to be able to host the festival this year.”

The festival begins with Group Day at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Group Day accommodates day cares, summer camps and troops with a tailored schedule of events that ends at 2:30 p.m.

The festival opens to the public at 4 p.m. Thursday with a Loren Long character costume contest, followed by the Storybook Parade at 5:30 p.m., the unveiling of bronze sculptures of Otis the Tractor and his calf friend.

Long will be in Abilene for the opening of his art exhibition at the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature. 

The festival is expected to draw more than 4,000 people this year.

Registration is open and passes are $11 for children ages 3 to 12 (2 and under are free) and $16 for ages 13 and up.

A complete schedule can be found below:

Thursday, June 10 (No pass required)

  • 9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Group day (not open to the public)
  • 4 p.m. - Costume contest
  • 5-8 p.m. - Loren Long NCCIL exhibition is open
  • 5:30 p.m.- Storybook Parade
  • 6:15 p.m. - Storybook sculpture unveiling
  • 6:30 p.m. - Otis’s Putt Puff Puttedy Party
  • 7 p.m. - Artist talk & book signing

Friday and Saturday, June 11-12 (Pass required)

  • 9 a.m.-3 p.m. - Little Sluggers
  • 9 a.m.-4 p.m. - Loren Long NCCIL exhibition
  • 9 a.m.-4 p.m. - The STEAM Room
  • 9 a.m.-4 p.m. - Cookie decorating
  • 9 a.m.-4 p.m. - Abilene Philharmonic's Instrument Petting Zoo
  • 9 a.m.-4 p.m. - Train rides
  • 9 a.m.-4 p.m. - Palette of Purpose chalk art
  • 9 a.m.-4 p.m. - Dramatic readings & art activities
  • 9 a.m. - Balloon & magic show
  • 9 a.m. - Geppetto’s Marionette Theater
  • 9-11 a.m. - Loren Long book signing
  • 9-11 a.m. - Touch A Truck
  • 9:45 a.m. - “The Little Engine That Could” at the Abilene Public Library
  • 10 a.m. - Joe McDermott music
  • 10 a.m.-3 p.m. - Otis’s Farm Friends petting zoo
  • 10:15 a.m. - Laughter League
  • 10:30 a.m. - Geppetto’s Marionette Theater
  • 11 a.m. - Balloon & magic show
  • Noon - Joe McDermott music
  • Noon - Geppetto’s Marionette Theater
  • 1 p.m.-  Balloon & magic show
  • 1 p.m. - Laughter League
  • 1:30 p.m. - Geppetto’s Marionette Theater
  • 2 p.m. - Joe McDermott music
  • 2:30 p.m. - Laughter League
  • 3 p.m. - Geppetto’s Marionette Theater
  • 3 p.m. - Balloon & magic show
  • 4-5 p.m. - Best of New York International Children’s Film Festival
  • 4:15 p.m. - Geppetto’s Marionette Theater
  • 6 p.m. - Friday “Cars” movie at Paramount
  • 6:30 p.m. - Friday NCCIL dinner with Loren Long
  • 6 p.m. Saturday -  “The Rookie” movie at Paramount

Extra fee

  • Write & Illustrate workshop on Saturday
  • Storybook Characters Breakfast
  • Enchanted Storybook Café
  • Professional development for teachers

CALF is presented by the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council, an affiliate of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce dedicated to promoting the arts and enriching lives in Abilene. For more information and full schedule of events, visit abilenecalf.com or call 325-677-1161.