One year ago, Lt.Bryan Hall attended his first KidFest event. The Newton Police Officer helped with Digital Child ID efforts, and met people who made their way to Sunset Elementary in search of something to do on a Saturday morning.

“I did not know what to expect. It was really neat to see all the different groups come together in one place, and not only to connect with the kids, but the other agencies,” Hall said.

He was not the only member of the force there for the first time. Jon Adkins, a school resource officer at the elementary school level, was there too. This year, Adkins is coming back, and expanding the involvement of the Newton Police Department.

“It is an opportunity to help with the community,” Adkins said. “KidFest is good for the community. It is good for families to come and see what is available in Harvey County.”

He has assembled a team of about six people to assist with car seat checks — that list includes a master technician and five technicians.

NPD will still do the Digital Child ID program — which offers parents a compact disc with information about their child they can have handy if something happens, like a child goes missing.

Harvey County kids between birth to eight years old can bring their families to KidFEST 2017, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. April 1, at Sunset Elementary, 619 Boyd, Newton.

Hosted by Harvey County United Way, this day offers fun activities and games for children, while parents learn more about area services and programs.

Popular activities for kids include climbing through the Newton Fire/EMS smoke tunnel, coloring in a black light box, petting a friendly dog from the Humane Society, and exploring a fire truck. Each child completing at least 10 activities receives a free book to take home.

“It is fun to see all the things kids can make and do when they are there,” said Jennifer Burns with the Newton Police Department, who has been part of the KidFest efforts for a decade. “When my kids were young they really loved it.”

The Kansas Learning Center for Health is bringing its specialized Farm to Family curriculum where children will learn planting techniques. And, at 11:30, Newton Young Professionals will host a Treasure Egg Hunt in keeping with the event’s literacy theme.

KidFEST is a part of the Harvey County United Way's Literacy Initiative, which also includes Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program.  Through that program, Harvey County children receive a free book monthly until age 5. That program has grown to 625 children currently enrolled and more than 200 children already graduated.

“Research shows that reading to children from the earliest ages has a long-term positive impact on that child’s future,” said Sherri Rawlins, a member of the Harvey County United Way advisory board. “We hope that we increase reading by getting books into homes and making it novel.”