Elsa and Kristoff, with Olaf and Anna in tow, led at least 100 kids through the Benton County Fairgrounds on Wednesday.
The four characters from the popular Disney movie Frozen were first in line for the Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo’s annual Kiddie Parade.
Siblings Payson, Paisley and Blakely Hansen and cousin Beck Large also were recipients of a first-place trophy for their themed costumes. They were chosen by Queen Brittni Kinnison and a committee of fair directors.
Kids Day at the fair is an annual tradition for the Hansen family, with grandparents Bonnie Jo and Jeffrey Hansen coordinating the outing.
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The Kennewick couple have it down to a science — hitting up the Kid’s Zone, animals and food booths in the morning, going home for afternoon naps, then returning in the evening to watch the Horse Heaven Round-Up.
Bonnie Jo Hansen admitted they already have costumes in mind for the 2016 parade.
“We love to do it,” she said.
Hansen grew up in the small southeastern Idaho town of Lava Hot Springs, where the fair was a “big thing” during her youth. She felt it was important to share that enjoyment with her kids and grandkids each August with the Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo in Kennewick.
“It builds community awareness and, being a farm girl myself, it’s a different side of life that kids don’t always see,” she said.
This year, the couple showed their dedication to the little ones and the fair by leaving the Tri-Cities at 4 a.m. Wednesday and driving to Cheney to pick up the Hansen siblings so they would make it to the parade.
Courtney Hansen — mother of the kids, ages 5, 4 and 23 months — is about to give birth to a fourth child and needed to stay home with husband Beau Hansen. Brandi Jo Large, mother of 8-month-old Beck, traveled from Florence, Ore., for the festivities.
After leading the parade, the Hansen kids joined in on the Hay Dive, searching for prizes such as candy, fair programs and plastic toys like rings and mini horns.
Magnolia Thrasher’s uncle told the 5-year-old to fill her pockets with loot, but she opted to make a pouch with the front of her T-shirt as she ran around in the hay. Then, Magnolia and 4-year-old brother Milo met with dad David Thrasher of Richland and uncle Chris Hansen of Pasco before they divvied up the collections.
David Thrasher said this was his kids’ first year at the fair.
“It’s kind of exciting for them,” he said. “We’re trying to do more things out in town, in the community, and the fair is here. We just wanted them to be out and have fun.”
Thrasher knew it was Kids Day, but he was surprised when he arrived at the fairgrounds to find kids lining up for a parade. Magnolia and Milo joined in, waved to people as they marched through the grounds and then enjoyed the candy at the end, “so it was all good,” he added.
After the Hay Dive was done, about a dozen kids continued to root through the pile in search of any undiscovered treasures.
Haley Meredith, director of the Kid’s Zone for 11 years, said she knows families always are looking for something fun and educational while at the fair. She keeps that in mind when organizing the activities, demonstrations and booths each year.
Meredith said the turnout for Kids Day continues to grow, and this year’s event “went off without a hitch.”