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Innisfail set for annual Family Literacy Festival

Innisfail Library/Learning Centre event on Jan. 28 will feature famed children’s entertainer Mary Lambert
Tara Downs, manager of the Innisfail Public Library, holds some heritage-related books during her planning of this year's Family Literacy Festival that is being held at the Innisfail Library/Learning Centre on Jan. 28. Johnnie Bachusky/MVP Staff

INNISFAIL – All heritage lovers have the opportunity to celebrate the importance of their past when the town plays it part on Jan. 28 to mark national Family Literacy Day.

The national celebration is being held locally with a festival at the Innisfail Library/Learning Centre.

This year’s national theme for Family Literacy Day is ‘Celebrate your Heritage’.

“I think it's a great thing for kids to think about their heritage,” said Tara Downs, the manager of the Innisfail Public Library. “I think it's a great topic to realize that we're all from somewhere.”

The annual Family Literacy Day across Canada, which has been held since 1999, officially takes place every Jan. 27 to raise awareness about the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family.

Thousands of schools, libraries, literacy organizations and other community groups across the county take part in the initiative.

However, with the annual Jan. 27 event on a Friday, local organizers have opted to host it on the closest Saturday, which is Jan. 28.

The Innisfail Library/Learning Centre has been hosting its free Family Literacy Festival since 2017, and marked its fourth annual event in 2020; two months before the COVID-19 pandemic struck and forced event cancellations in 2021 and 2022.

This year’s free event marks the festival’s return.

The library is hosting the event in partnership with the Innisfail and District Historical Village, Henday Association for Lifelong Learning, Innisfail Family Resource Network and Innisfail Family Day Home Society.

The event will begin at 11 a.m. and run until 3 p.m.

“We'll have a guest reader at the very beginning (11 a.m.) for about a 15-minute storytime gathering because this is family and geared to younger kids,” said Downs.

This year’s guest reader is mayor Jean Barclay.

From 11:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. there will be family activities. Downs said there will passports available for children to get stamped as they engage the activities.

Children can then use the passports to enter gift basket draws. The winners of the draws will be announced from 2:45 to 3:00 p.m.

There will be a free barbecue outside serving hot dogs and drinks from noon until 1:30 p.m.

As for entertainment, organizers have retained the services of Juno Award-nominee Mary Lambert to perform from 1:45 to 2:35 p.m.

Since 1993, Lambert, who has released multiple solo CDs and children’s books, has performed more than 3,500 shows at elementary schools, libraries, daycares, music festivals and family-focused events across Canada.


Johnnie Bachusky

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