Smiling, giggling, pouting and sleeping babies were everywhere in the Gibraltar Room on Nov. 16 at the third annual Baby Fest.
“We are thrilled,” said LeRae Haynes, the community co-ordinator for Success by Six and one of the organizers of the event.
“The point of this is welcoming any baby born here in 2017,” she said.
This year’s attendance saw 124 babies show up at the event, up from 89 the year previous.
The event was created after a discussion between members of the Early Childhood Development Network about gaps for new parents in the community.
“We have no way of celebrating babies that are born here — especially when welcoming and retaining young families.”
After that goal was added to Williams Lake’s community plan, the city and the network partnered to create the event.
“I really think to keep the economy diversified and vibrant we need young families. We need young families to come here and to stay here,” said city councillor Sue Zacharias, who helped welcome babies and parents to the event.
As Haynes put it, the event was like a “one stop information fair.”
Businesses, not for profits, organizations and resources grouped around the space to provide information and options to parents.
Tara Halloway, of the newly opened Finn and Ark, said when she was a new mom she had a hard time finding maternity wear and children’s clothes in town. Her store provides just that, in unique handmade patterns.
Haynes stressed that one of the most important points of the event is bringing the business community and non profit agencies together.
“It’s about offering the best we can to young families and babies and wanting them to be here.”
Another goal, Haynes said, is to help address gaps in the community, especially in terms of information.
While Baby Fest only happens once a year, Haynes directs parents to the resource wlchild.ca: a resource that provides parents with information about what’s available in the community and what their children need to grow up happy and healthy.
It was Kendal Bourdan’s second Baby Fest, with her second child.
“I came to the first one for my son two years ago and I loved it and all the different resources and vendors and everything. I just love to see what is local and around in Williams Lake,” she said.
For other parents, part of the draw was socializing.
“It’s nice to meet up with friends, it’s hard to get out with babies and meet up with other moms,” said Michelle Iverson.