Cute the trumpets! Let’s make some noise for the 10th Children’s Art & Literacy Festival (CALF) in the Storybook Capital of America® from June 9-11 celebrating the work of Caldecott Medal artist and author Sophie Blackall. We are cooking up something so tasty that Sophie’s “Wild Boars” have declared it “delightful,” “delicious” and “divine.” If you’re starving for fun, register for CALF today!
The festival started in 2012 with a Dr. Seuss celebration. Since then, CALF has expanded to 19 venues throughout downtown, bringing nearly 5,000 people a year from across Texas and the United States.
The festival will kick off Thursday, June 9 with Group Day for day cares and summer camps. Nearly 700 children are able to attend Group Day who might otherwise not be able to come to the festival thanks to our generous sponsors.
The festival opens to the public Thursday afternoon with a costume contest, Storybook Parade, and unveiling of our 27th Storybook Sculpture based on the book “Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear” illustrated by Sophie. Sophie will be joining the festivities in Abilene, which includes the opening of a summer exhibit of her original artwork at the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature (NCCIL), the first museum in the nation to exclusively exhibit children’s picture book art. Thursday night, see Sophie in action at the Paramount Theatre and draw along with her during the free “Sketch with Sophie” event followed by a book signing.
A festival pass is required to attend Friday and Saturday events. Activities planned to celebrate the 10th CALF include demonstrations by animal stilt walkers Animal Cracker Conspiracy from San Diego, a live production of “Ivy + Bean: The Musical” based on the book series illustrated by Sophie, and a 10th CALF dramatic book reading venue where we are bringing back favorite books, costumed characters and buttons from previous festivals.
In addition to the exciting new events, we will have festival favorites like dramatic readings of Sophie’s most popular books at six venues with art activities, ventriloquist Nancy Burks Worcester, Geppetto’s Marionette Theater of Dallas, Kornpop the clown’s balloon show, train rides, Abilene Philharmonic Instrument Petting Zoo, May Farm Petting Zoo and more! Children collect CALF buttons for their festival lanyards as they complete each activity. The Abilene Zoo is setting up Animal Encounters during the festival, and if you wear your CALF pass on Sunday, you can enter the zoo for free and experience more CALF with a reading of “Meet Wild Boars” and a running of the hogs! If you are ready to pig out on fun, register for CALF at www.abilenecalf.com. Thursday events are free. Passes for Friday and Saturday are $8 for children 3-12 (2 and under are free) and $13 for ages 13 and up through May 15. After that date, passes are $11 for children and $16 for ages 13 and up.
Abilene has the largest collection of public storybook sculptures in the country. The Texas legislature declared the city the official Storybook Capital of Texas in 2015, and in 2018, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office approved Abilene to trademark and exclusively use the term “Storybook Capital of America®.” CALF is a program of the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council, an affiliate of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce dedicated to promoting the arts and enriching lives in Abilene, a city of 119,000 people situated between Midland and Fort Worth on Interstate 20. For more information and full schedule of events, visit www.abilenecalf.com or call 325-677-1161. For information about other fun stuff to do and places to stay, visit www.abilenevisitors.com, or call 800-727-7704.