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Saturday event combines fun and safety

Ask any parent and they will tell you, children grow up too fast. And that is just one of many reasons to attend Project KidCare again this year.

The fun event pairs a pumpkin decorating contest with a free identity kit that includes fingerprints and an up-to-date photograph.

Willa Dean Meyer and Bill Bonacker are cofounders of the annual event, which is having its 10th anniversary this year.

&#8221Children change so fast,“ Meyer pointed out. &#8221They get braces, change their hair style – last year’s picture may not look like your child at all any more.“

An up-to-date photograph is very important if your child is ever missing, Bonacker pointed out. &#8221Just how descriptive could you be if your child was ever missing? He’s the cute kid in suspenders just doesn’t quite narrow it down.“

The free identity kits are the serious side to the event, but the big draw, organizers admit, are the pumpkins. There will be 200 free pumpkins given away as part of a decorating contest sponsored by Bankstar of the Leadbelt.

A $40 cash prize will be awarded to first place in each of three age divisions. Second places win $30 and third $20.

Children participating in the contest must bring their own decorating supplies.

Meyer stressed that the pumpkins are to be decorated only, not carved. &#8221Please do not bring any knives,“ she said. &#8221This is a decorating contest. There is no carving at all.“

Registration for the contest begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the St. Francois County Fairgrounds. The Fairgrounds will be open starting at 10 a.m. Decorating begins at 11. The children get 30 minutes to work on the pumpkins on their own, without parental assistance.

There will be other activities at the event, such as a free bicycle safety course taught by the Farmington Police Department and the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department.

Special guests will include McDonald’s Hamburgler, McGruff the Crime dog and Sgt. Snuffy.

Hot dogs and fixin’s are being provided by Mineral Area Regional Medical Center and are being served by the &#8221ECMO Shrine“ chefs. Chili is being provided by Special Memories and McDonalds is offering cookies and orange drink. Pepsi Cola Bottlers has donated Pepsi and Echols is providing popcorn.

The Sheriff and his deputies will be performing during the event and there will be a number of free attendance prizes for children 12 and under given out during the day, including three bicycles, one donated by Mrs. B’s and one each from the Desloge and Farmington Wal-Marts, and a birthday party for 12 from Farmington McDonalds.

Bonacker and Meyer praised local law enforcement organizations for their participation in making the 10th anniversary happen.

&#8221It seems that the world gets a little crazier with each passing year, and that’s reason enough to be involved in an event like this that is all about child safety,“ Bonacker said.

Thanks to donations from corporate sponsors, everything at the event is free. In addition to Bankstar of the Leadbelt, major corporate sponsors include Auffenberg Chevrolet-Buick, Crown Motors, Mineral Area Regional Medical Center.

Other partners include area police departments and media outlets, St. Francois County Fair Board, Leadington, Mineral Area Office Supply, St. Francois County Commissioners and Medley Ice Co.

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