KidsQuest Children’s Museum in Factoria Mall is a place for kids to let loose, learn, and have fun. Over the past weekend, the tables were turned and it was the parents turn to play.
The first KidsQuest Carnival attracted more than 300 guests for a night of games, magic, music, and cocktails. The event transformed the children’s museum into an adult playground. Performing acrobats greeted the guests under a circus tent courtesy of the Youth Performance Company, School of Acrobatics & New Circus Art.
With no kids in sight, parents were able to enjoy an evening of fun and games. People could enjoy Redhook beer and Chateau Ste. Michelle wine and a bright blue vodka concoction, dubbed a Carny Cocktail. Staying true to the carnival theme, there was cotton candy, a popcorn machine, and a classic photo booth.
The party kicked-off at 7 p.m. and continued well past the Factoria Mall’s closing time.
“The party ends when the party ends,” joked Sarah McNiesh Villian, the museum’s development and marketing director.
Tickets were pre-sold for the adult-only event at $25 a person and included admission, food, and drinks. Once inside, guests purchased additional gaming tickets used for various activities and games.
“The main goal is to raise money and to gain friends,” Putter Bert said, the executive director for the KidsQuest Children’s Museum.
The fundraiser event raised more than $37,000.
“The museum is modeled around the Early Learning Academic Requirements and is funded primarily through membership fees and donations from the community,” Bert explained. “As the only children’s museum located on the Eastside, the 2 1/2-year-old museum has filled a much needed niche.”
The concept first formed in 1997 and in 2000, Bert, with 25 years of combined experience in the field, was hired to oversee the exhibit design, the overall business plan, and to recruit a board of directors.
The museum was originally built with the hope of accommodating 60,000 guests a year. Jump ahead eight years and now the museum welcomes more than 140,000 through their doors each year. Families drive from all over the Eastside, Seattle, Mercer Island, and the South King County area.
The museum currently has 300 members who primarily live within a 40-mile radius. Membership through the museum includes free admission for the year, discounts on programs and the museum shop, and first notice of upcoming events.
Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar spoiled the guests with a sampling of appetizers including Dungeness Crab, assorted sushi, marinated baby mozzarella and much more. Musician Michael Kroll entertained the crowd while bellydancer Raqs Serpentine and magician Steffan Soule put on show-stopping performances.
“We wanted it to be just like going to the state fair,” explained Bert. “You buy gaming tickets to play the games, such as dart balloons, bingo, hena tattoos, wine toss and then there are free activities like a belly dancer and a magician.”
Planning the Carnival was an expansive project that included a committee of six individuals, led by co-chairs, Stephanie Syrop Webster and Robi Zocher. A group of more than 30 volunteers helped out during the event, including set up and tear down. Honda Auto Center of Bellevue was the big tent sponsor along with several other Eastside-based companies.
“All the hard work that went into planning the event by our committee and our volunteers just shows how important the museum is to our community,” Bert said.
Lindsay Larin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-453-4602.