Special to the Citizen
On what is considered to be a shopping holiday in Missouri — tax-free weekend — kids from around the Northland participated in activities and learning about all the sports offered in Platte County at the 4th annual Platte County Sports Commission Youth Sports Festival held on Saturday Aug. 4 at Zona Rosa Town Center.
The festival, was created to expose all of the youth in the county to the various sports available in Platte County and putting the organizations together in the same place and so far the idea has been working with enrollment numbers increasing.
In total, 19 different booths could be found throughout the square at Zona Rosa showcasing businesses and sports organizations in Platte County: martial arts, football, basketball, girls cheer, swimming, golf, volleyball and baseball.
Festival attendees, also had the chance to participate in different sports and activities around the festival grounds. They even had a chance to interact with some of their favorite mascots from Kansas City’s professional sports teams: KC Wolf from the Chiefs, Sluggerrr from the Royals and Sporting KC’s Blue. Kids had a chance to hit whiffle balls pitched by Sluggerrr.
“We started the youth sports festival about four years ago, just to expose all the youth in the county to the different sports opportunities available to the kids in the county,” Kristen Davis, vice chairman of the Platte County Sports Commission said. “The event has grown year-in-and-year out. There are more kids participating in sports in the county and organizations have cited their enrollment numbers are going up.”
The festival exposes families to all the different sporting organizations and programs available to them in the Platte County area.
Northland Swim Conference was one of the organizations present and they enjoy being out in the community participating in the festival and look forward to growing their program which includes — 11 teams, 77 coaches and 1,600 kids making them one of the largest summer swim programs in the country.
The program accepts kids from ages 5-18 years old and boasts a championship meet that is talked about nationwide.
“We are one of the biggest summer-swimming programs in the country. Swimming is huge in the Northland,” Northland Swim Conference executive board secretary and championship meet director Kim Bernhardt said. “Swimming, is an overall healthy lifestyle and kids who are swimmers are great at school, well-rounded and healthy, because we teach kids camaraderie and kids learn better focus. We just love meeting the public and teaching them about swimming.”
“Our championship meet is talked about nationwide and it includes a lot of Platte County and Northland residents.”
The festival would not be possible without help from partner organizations — Zona Rosa, Lamar and Dick’s Sporting Goods among others. Grants are also used to help put on the festival.
Planning for next year’s event is already under way and Davis is hoping to secure a grant from the NTDF (Neighborhood Tourism Development Fund) a grant from Kansas City that helps stimulate tourism and economy.
“Putting on the festival is a major-undertaking and we work closely with our partner organizations to make sure everybody is aware of the date,” Davis said. “We will start working on next year’s festival next week after we receive feedback on this year’s festival. We will start incorporating new ideas and working on funding. Without supports from our partners and grants this event would not be possible.”