PASCO -- Gray skies and blustery winds kept some families from Pasco's Memorial Park on Saturday, but hundreds of others were happy to celebrate literacy.
With music in the air, Dora the Explorer posing for photos and a number of activities for youths, organizers of the Mid-Columbia Libraries eighth annual Dia Festival said they were glad to continue serving area families.
And while the day's winds made it a little harder for some children to hold onto their balloon hats, they and their parents took advantage of booths with games and activities as well as information on programs and services.
"It's just a lot of activities and information for parents and kids," said Pasco resident Karina Bahena.
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The event is modeled on children's and reading festivals held in Central America and is meant to interest youths in reading while also serving parents.
Candy Mendoza, the libraries' community engagement manager, said it's important for children to have books in their life, as it makes them more likely to succeed in and continue their education.
"We definitely want that exposure," she said.
The event has been steadily growing, though only about 1,200 people turned out Saturday, less than half of last year's total. Organizers said the weather likely kept families away, but the event still serves an important need. This year, more than 20 organizations, from Molina Health Care to Benton Franklin Head Start, participated.
"They used to be able to do it in the (Pasco branch) library," said Kate Holloway, the libraries' marketing director.
Many booths had a theme derived from a specific book. If a family visited enough of the booths, their children received a free book to take home.
Bahena said she attended the festival each year to learn about library programs and offerings. Her children Daisy, 8, and Diego, 5, liked the lady who made balloon animals.
Pasco resident Jeff Albin said it was the first time he and his 7-year-old son, Isaac, attended the festival. Isaac said he was excited to build his first birdhouse while Albin said he was impressed at the slew of activities.
"I'd say for sure we'll be coming again next year," he said.