Major Fun for Minors

Keeping kids occupied at a LEGO-free Bumbershoot.

Like all naturally bossy parents, I enjoy giving unsolicited advice. In years past, I would have been happy to instruct any adults in earshot about how to do Bumbershoot with kids: "Go on Friday when it's not crowded. Head straight for the LEGO pit." This year, as if to deny me my little fix of mommy-knows-best, Bumbershoot ditched Fridays, formerly the only day you could safely negotiate a stroller through the crowds. Then (cover your ears, kids) they nixed the LEGO pit. This radical omission may cheer some parents, who resent paying big entry fees to get their kids into Bumbershoot to do something they could do for free at home. But those of us who felt we had the festival-for-families thing nailed are at a bit of a loss. Happily, it looks as though One Reel has planned a fair number of child-friendly features, starting with a kids' pavilion in the Center House. Be forewarned, though: The "Home Ec vs. High Tech" theme means you will be obliged to engage in (ick) arts and crafts surrounded by (ickier) other people's children. When you've had enough, head outside to the fountain lawn. There you'll find a few oddball cultural events that should help distract your kids from the gaping absence of LEGO. Look for Firepod, a steel installation of sorts that sprays mist by day and fire by night. Designed by Mark Tomkiewicz, it had its first outing at Burning Man. It may not be as kid-interactive as last year's bubble volcano, but it'll definitely capture the attention of any budding pyromaniacs. Nearby you'll find Motorworks II, by Chris McMullen, a large-scale kinetic sculpture designed to simulate the workings of a combustion engine. And on the lawn north of the fountain, the trickster art trio SuttonBeresCuller will erect Experimental Housing Project—a mock suburban neighborhood, replicated in all its details (Stepford, anyone?). All three art projects will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday through Monday. Strawberry shortcake should be next on the agenda, and then—as the afternoon grows long—it'll be time to let your kids run in the fountain (remember to bring a spare set of clothing). Just try not to think about the fact that any other weekend of the year, they could do the same thing for free.

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