11 city celebration activities kids will love

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Springville’s Art City Days lets families explore their creative side by throwing clay, painting faces and celebrating the heart of the Art City. Join in the fun June 4-11. (Photo courtesy Springville Art City Days, Utah Valley CVB)

Kids just wanna have fun, especially in the summertime. If you’re already tired of thinking up fun things for your tribe to do, let Utah County’s kid-centric city celebrations do the heavy lifting. These multi-day events have plenty happening beyond parades, carnivals and cotton candy — although that trifecta is a pretty great way to spend a day. Here’s a sampling of kid-approved activities at Utah County’s city celebrations this summer:

Children’s Art Festival at Springville’s Art City Days

It’s only appropriate that a city celebration known as Art City Days has a day devoted to kids making art. The Children’s Art Festival on the front lawn of the Springville Museum of Art will have more than 15 different art-making booths for young artists. There will be face painting, storytelling and entertainment. If you can swing it, there is a children’s parade at the beginning of the event, too, so bring your kids’ bikes, tricycles or scooters to decorate and ride. Bonus: all parade participants get free snow cones.

When: June 8 from 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
Where: Springville Museum of Art
Cost: FREE
Site: springville.org

Kids Crafts at Orem Summerfest

Sometimes it’s nice to just sit in the shade and do a few crafts. At the Kids’ Crafts Pavilion at Scera Park, there will be balloon art, face painting, hairdos, games and activities. Bonus: It’s sponsored by the Little Gym and free for kids.

When: June 8-9
Where: Scera Park Main Pavilion, 600 S. State Street, Orem
Cost: FREE
Site:summerfest.orem.org

Mutton Bustin’ at Pleasant Grove Strawberry Days

Watch brave little buckaroos and cowgirls hop on a sheep for what is likely the ride of their young lives. Mutton bustin’ is a majorly tuned down version of bull riding, where little kids ages 3-6 that weigh less than 50 pounds ride a sheep for as long as they can. This pre-rodeo event is happening every night before the popular Strawberry Days rodeo. If you want to go, buy tickets now — it will sell out.

When: June 20-23 at 7 p.m.
Where: Pleasant Grove Rodeo Grounds, 485 W. 200 S. State, Pleasant Grove
Cost: $1 for kids ages 1-10, $10 for adults
Site: strawberrydaysrodeo.com

Stars and Stripes Beach Party at the Freedom Festival

Nearly every event at American’s Freedom Festival in Provo is family friendly, but the Stars and Stripes Beach Party is bound to be a hit with little ones. The free event hosted by the Shops at Riverwoods will have bounces houses, face painters, balloon artists and a petting zoo. Kids can run through the splash pad or listen to live entertainment on the Riverwoods gazebo. Snacks on site include kettle corn, fresh-squeezed lemonade and cotton candy. There will also be an outdoor dance at the end of the evening.

When: June 23 from 4-8 p.m., dance 8:30-10:30 p.m.
Where: Shops at Riverwoods, 4801 N. University Avenue, Provo
Cost: FREE
Site: freedomfestival.org

Soap Box Derby American Fork Steel Days, July 19

A soap box derby is like a go-cart race for children, minus the “go” — kids drive motorless vehicles made from crates and other improvised materials. At the Steel Days Soap Box Derby, there are two racing brackets: stock car and freestyle, with 1st and 2nd place prizes plus people’s choice awards. Whether you’re cheering on a racer or not, it’s bound to be entertaining.

When: July 19 from 6-8 p.m.
Where: 740 N. 20 East, American Fork
Cost: $15 per car (Participants must be registered by July 1.)
Site: steeldaysaf.com

Fish Rodeo at Fiesta Days

There are a handful of summer rodeos in Utah Valley, but Spanish Fork’s Fiesta Days is likely the only celebration with a fish rodeo. The event is part of a larger Children’s Day and happens right after the children’s parade. For the fish rodeo, a 1,000 square foot, man-made pond is filled with more than 500 fish for kids to catch. It’s the perfect way to introduce kids to fishing without the wishing and hoping and waiting (no child’s forte) that normally comes with the sport.

When: July 21 from 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Where: City Park, 49 S. Main Street, Spanish Fork
Cost: $5
Site: spanishfork.org

Kids Night at Highland Fling

Kids Night at the Highland Fling has the requisite activities for a successful kid-centric event: a bike ride, face painting, games and food vendors. But there will also be the 2ndcardboard challenge, where elementary school kids can create a box arcade from cardboard and other recycled materials.  A work day for the cardboard challenge is June 21 from 12-2:30 p.m.

When: Aug.1, 6 p.m. for registration, 6:30 p.m. for event
Where: 5400 W. Civic Center Drive, Highland
Cost: FREE
Site: highlandcity.org

Cardboard Duct Tape Boat Regatta at Salem Days

For the Salem Days’ annual cardboard duct tape boat regatta, each team receives two hours to build a boat out of cardboard, duct tape, and two pieces of wood. (Photo courtesy of Jen Wright)

If riding across a pond in a boat made from little more than cardboard and duct tape sounds like an adventure your kids would love, make sure to mark Salem Days’ Cardboard Duct Tape Boat Regatta on your calendar. Each team competing gets corrugated cardboard, a 1-by-2-by-8 board and three rolls of duct tape. You’ll need to bring life jackets, paddles, utility knives and pens/markers/spray paint to decorate your “ship.” There are four categories: youth team, adult team, family team and freestyle, which allows you to make the boat prior to the regatta. 

When: Aug.7 from 4-6 p.m.
Where: Beach at Knoll Park, 150 W. 300 South, Salem
Cost: $15 per boat
Site: salemcity.org

Huck Finn Fishing at Lindon Days, Aug.8

For some old-fashioned fun grab your kids and  fishing poles (or sticks) and head to Creekside Park for fishing, Huck Finn style. Huck Finn Fishing is part of Lindon Days, and those who dress in Huck Finn era costumes may even win a prize. Win or lose, everyone gets free shaved ice from Lani’s.

When: Aug. 8 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Creekside Park, 100 S. 600 West, Lindon
Cost: FREE
Site: lindoncity.org

Creekside Carnival at Alpine Days

Bring a tent for shade and a cooler stocked with snacks so you can stay all day at the Alpine Days carnival at Creekside Park. There will be a ropes course, water slides, Zorb balls, zipline, rock climbing wall, dunk tank, mechanical bull and bounce houses. Basically, kid heaven. Details: Aug.11 from 2-9 p.m., Aug. 12 from 11 a.m. -10 p.m. Creekside Park, 100 South and 600 East, Alpine, wristbands are $13 in advance, $15 at event, $10 for kids ages 5 and under

When: Aug. 11 from 2-9 p.m., Aug. 12 from 11 a.m. -10 p.m.
Where: Creekside Park, 100 South and 600 East, Alpine
Cost: Wristbands are $13 in advance, $15 at event, $10 for kids ages 5 and under
Site: alpinedays.org

Monster Truck Rides at Payson Golden Onion Days

Many little boys and girls — and, let’s be honest, big ones, too — have dreamed about riding in a monster truck. You can live out that dream with a ride on Hitman monster truck at Payson’s Golden Onion Days. Hitman is a real Ford monster truck that was converted into a ride truck and seats 8. 

When: Sept. 2 from 10 a.m.to dusk and Sept. 4 from 8 a.m. to dusk
Where: Field south of the Aquatic Center, Payson
Cost: $5 a ride for kids, $10 for adults
Site: paysonutah.org

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Natalie Hollingshead is a former magazine editor turned freelance writer and editor. She writes regularly about home, family, food and travel for a handful of publications, and is co-author of the book "Happy Homemaking” (Cedar Fort, 2012) with Elyssa Andrus. A native of Alberta, Canada, Natalie lives in Orem with her husband and their three children.

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