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London Children’s Festival first of many returns to the Forest City this summer

London Children’s Festival 2022 kicks off in Victoria Park on Friday June 17, 2022. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

After two years of COVID-19 shutting down most fun events, the London Children’s Festival is one of the first of many to return to the Forest City.

Families looking for something fun to do this week may be excited to see the festivals return, with games, fair food, rides and more.

For festival organizer and president of Family Shows Canada Doug Hillier, after time away, it’s a bit like starting all over again.

“We know we’ve got a few challenges to overcome, nothing that we can’t handle because we’ve been doing this for over 30 years, Hillier said.

“It’s been here for a very long time, but it seems like we’re all starting over again after the three-year hiatus. So we’re here again, and we’re going to get through this one, and it’s going to be just sparkling.”

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Getting this restarted after two years of shutdowns, Hiller said they, like other businesses, have some issues finding staff.

“Finding labour has been absolutely horrible.”

“Half of our booths can’t come because they can’t find people to run them, and that’s a real shame,” Hiller said.

Rides at the London Children’s Festival 2022 in Victoria Park on Friday June 17, 2022. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News
Child enjoying the rides at the London Children’s Festival 2022 in Victoria Park on Friday, June 17, 2022. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

For festival booth owners like Mike Timpano, owner of Mr. Kettle Corn, it’s nice to be able to operate again.

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“It’s been quite the feeling not doing anything for two years. I find our first festival in all the new areas back has been very, very busy. People are just so happy, like basically thanking us for showing up for them,” Timpano said.

He said it’s nice to be able to pay the bill again after not operating his Kettle Corn business during COVID-19.

Jayce Fedge left and Isaiah Gebredingle right playing at the duck game at the London Children’s Festival 2022 in Victoria Park on Friday, June 17, 2022. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News
Isaiah Gebredingle holding up his prize at the London Children’s Festival 2022 in Victoria Park on Friday, June 17, 2022. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

Families Global News spoke to were excited to see the fair return.

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“I’m very excited that we’re heading towards a normal future, and things are starting to get exciting and fun, and I think summer 2022 is where it’s at,” Tara Taylor said.

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Natalie Cohen with her three children left to right Jonathan, Mathew and Hannah enjoying the London Children’s Festival 2022 in Victoria Park on Friday, June 17, 2022. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

Mom of three, Natalie Cohen, says it is refreshing to be able to get out to events like this.

“It relieves the stress of being outside the house because we homeschool all three kids. So it’s nice to be able to get out, do stuff again and feel a sense of normalcy again, even though we know the pandemic is still ongoing,” Cohen said.

When asked what they were excited about, Cohen’s children said it was all about the rides and fair games.

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Natalie Cohen with her three children Jonathan, Mathew and Hannah enjoying the London Children’s Festival 2022 in Victoria Park on Friday, June 17, 2022 Sawyer Bogdan. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News
Isla Bjerring with her grandmother Carol Neuss enjoying the London Children’s Festival 2022 in Victoria Park on Friday, June 17, 2022. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

Grandmother Carol Neuss says it has been fantastic for her young granddaughter to be able to socialize.

“They’ve been kind of isolated and not able to see other kids, so it’s been a great opportunity for her, and her older sister Penny is having fun on the rides.”

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The London Children’s Festival runs all weekend until Sunday in Victoria Park in downtown London.

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