Thousands Flock to RazorFest in Fayetteville
FAYETTEVILLE, AR — The sun was shining, the booths were set up, and Lindsay Ferguson of Fayetteville thought Saturday was a fine day to take son Mason, 4, to RazorFest.The fun, free family event was sponsored by Abbott Nutrition, maker of EAS energy bars, and nonprofit Champions for Kids, an organization with a goal of alleviating child hunger.
“We came out just to get in the spirit of things, and see how the Razorbacks are going to do this year,” Lindsay Ferguson said, as she carried Mason up the hill near Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on the University of Arkansas campus.
RazorFest lasted from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., when new Razorbacks coach Brett Bielema and the gridiron Hogs took the field for the Red/White game.
People who attended RazorFest were asked to bring canned goods to donate to Champions for Kids, which lessens child hunger through projects like Pack a Sack, giving children food to take home. Food brought Saturday would be donated to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank.
Champions for Kids is a nationwide organization with its heart and home in Fayetteville, said Blake Brandes, Champions for Kids chief programming officer.
“We are always so inspired by the willingness of people to give back to their communities,” Brandes said, as teen band Breaking Silence took the Champions for Kids stage to play a Mumford & Sons cover.
“The Fayetteville office has mobilized more than 30,000 people since 2011 to provide 145,000 needed items to children, such as books, school supplies and canned goods and other nonperishable food,” Brandes said.
He estimated the mild weather and sunny skies would bring 65,000 to 75,000 families, Northwest Arkansas residents and Razorbacks fans to RazorFest.
Faith Foster of Prairie Grove, pregnant with her second child, braved the crowds and bright sunshine to bring daughter Karter, nearly 3, to the Lifestyles booth to make bead bracelets. Foster said she admires a cause like Champions for Kids because it is a charity that focuses on the next generation, and the activity was something to take hers and Karter’s mind off the absence of a family member.
Foster’s husband, Trey, 26, is in the Army and deployed to Afghanistan, now in his fourth month serving his country.
Young men played the bongos at a booth staffed by Al Lopez, better known to the Northwest Arkansas community as “Papa Rap.” Lopez said he was happy to be invited to participate in RazorFest, as it is a great event for children and promotes giving children and families a hand up out of poverty.
That is no exception when it comes to serving the Latino community, Lopez said. Though there is the perception that Hispanics tend to be poor, most of them have better living conditions in the United States than they experienced before immigrating from their home countries.
“We need to recognize that, get the Latino community involved and help them serve. They also want to donate food and be a part of activities where they live, and contribute to the larger community,” Lopez said. ‘That creates a circle of success, where people are able to support themselves, open businesses, and pay it forward.”
Jim Crowson drove all the way to Fayetteville from Conway, AR, about three to four hours away, to bring grandchildren John Tyler Watts, 9, and Julia Ragon Watts, 6, to RazorFest.
Julia Watts said her favorite part of the day was seeing Disney star Blake Michael of Lemonade Mouth, and getting her photo taken with him.
RazorFest attendees also got to stock up on swag, from the Kleenex booths handing out PocketPaks to Abbott Nutrition’s EAS bar giveways to Banana Boat sunscreen portable packs, V8 VFusion energy drinks, Beggin Strips dog treats by Purina and PediaSure Sidekicks beverages. Weight Watchers handed out reduced fat cheese sticks and Kelloggs gave away NutriGrain fruit crunch bars, Rice Krispies treats and Harvest Acres mixed fruit snacks. After all that eating, people might want clean mouths, so they could get Colgate Total Advanced toothpaste samples.
Kleenex, a Kimberly-Clark brand, participated in RazorFest because Kleenex products are so compatible with the Champions for Kids mission of ensuring children stay healthy and have resources to perform well academically, said Lauren McClure, Kimberly Clark/Kleenex shopper marketing manager.
“We’re partners with Champions for Kids and we participate so kids can stay healthy, not get colds and stay in school,” McClure said.
She could barely get a word in edgewise, as RazorFest attendees crowded her booth to get the free PocketPak samples. They come in decorative packaging, contain 10 tissues per pack and are sold in bundle packs at Walmart stores.
“They are perfect for backpacks, back pockets, purses, and ensure mom or the kids can always be prepared,” so children don’t wipe noses on their hands, then spread germs though touching doorknobs, water fountains, and other surfaces, McClure said.
Dr. Philip M. Tierno Jr., author of “The Secret Life of Germs,” concurs with the assessment that using tissues like Kleenex prevent the spread of germs.
“I don’t see enough tissue boxes in schools. If a child uses a tissue, or even sneezes into the crook of his arm, the germs get tied up in the cloth,” Tierno stated in a recent WebMD article. “You can reduce the spread of germs by 80 percent to 90 percent just by capturing them with a tissue or cloth.”
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Did You Know…
• Today, more than 24,000 children younger than five years old died worldwide from poverty, hunger and easily treatable diseases.
• In the United States, more than 17 million children, or about 1 in 4 of the state’s youth, are in danger of going hungry.
• In Arkansas, 174,000 children, or about 1 in 4 of the state’s youth, are food insecure.
Sources: Champions for Kids and UNICEF.
Lana F. Flowers is a gifted Arkansas reporter who can handle news about Walmart and retail, movie and book reviews, human interest stories, features and anything else you'd care to mention. She lives in Rogers, Ark., with her husband Jesse, daughter Layla, cats Lottie Boots and Emmy, and dog Fuzzy. Send an email -- firstname.lastname@example.org