Saturday, June 25, 2011

Totstock in Roncesvalles

Last Sunday Dan and I took Noah to the 3rd annual Totstock. What is Totstock, you ask? It is an afternoon festival for children which brings together families in the area, and supports the local culture. Although admission is free, there is a cost for the games, and donations are welcomed. Proceeds from this year's Totstock went to the West End Food Coop. It was held at Sorauren Park, which is located in Roncesvalles Village (west end Toronto). 
Noah loves music, so the first thing we did was sat down on the grassy hill and listened to a few local bands. The line-up was eclectic; from indie, to oldies, to rock. There were a variety of musical instruments as well. Noah was captivated, of course! 
Brent Bambury of CBC radio, who emceed the event, proudly stated that Totstock was making a very small carbon footprint. The generator for the electrical equipment on stage was powered by different groups of cyclists located immediately beside the stage. 
The baseball diamond was filled with empty cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes. Kids were having fun constructing with these big, light building blocks! They made bridges, towers, tables and houses, among other things. Crayons were available for kids to decorate their structures.
The rest of the fair consisted of different tents that were set up, offering food, games and activities. This was definitely Noah's favourite activity. A very laid back and approachable music teacher gave casual ukulele lessons to kids. There were about 4 or 5 ukuleles on hand for kids to practise with. Noah did not tire of this activity quickly, so I finally encouraged him to give his ukulele to one of the children patiently waiting for a turn. He very chivalrously walked over and handed his musical instrument to the little girl....
...and then patiently waited for another ukulele to become free. The teacher sang songs (very well, I may add) while playing her ukulele, and Noah couldn't help but to jam with her.
The Leap Frog game pictured above looked a little too advanced for someone of Noah's age. The tent with dress-up clothes was busy, and looked like lots of fun, but Noah opted out of this activity. Maybe he feels that he gets plenty of dress-up time at home! 
There were other games like the Bean Bag Toss, and Tennis Racket Races. Noah decided to try his luck with the Penny Toss. He succeeded at throwing the penny onto one of the circles, although he did repeatedly ignore requests to stay behind the line! He won a bracelet and a few stickers.
That was what was so great about these carnival-style games run by the community: everyone got a prize, no matter what. And at least you knew that your $2 (to play the game) was going to a good cause.
Noah sat at the story-telling tent for a while, where they had a special guest appearance from Winnie the Pooh. Similar to his statement about the big Sesame Street characters at Busch Gardens, he said "I a little bit scared of Pooh Bear." It's funny how when we brought up our trip to Totstock later that day, and in the following days, it was the giant Pooh Bear that he remembered first. I guess fear trumps all other emotions in making human memories most vivid and strong. 
Noah waited in line to try the ring toss. After a solid effort on all three throws he got yet another bracelet and sticker. I loved how most of the games and activities were run by kids and preteens. They looked proud to be a part of running such an exciting event for the little ones. And they should be! Some of the other games and activities offered were: Fishing Pond, Silly Putty, Nail Painting, Rythmic Gymnastics Wands, Dance Lessons and Kite Making. "Your Neighbourhood" consisted of a table-top map of the area, and provided materials that people could use to creatively mark different locations in their community. There was also a table with various items for sale, and this is where I bought Noah a pinwheel and a children's kite. We tried to to fly it in the big open space beside the festival, but there wasn't quite enough wind to keep it up for long.
Since it was in plain view from the festival, Noah wanted to hit the playground across the street. Like the playground at Vine Parkette, Sorauren Park playground had lots of ride-on toys that belonged to the park. What made it even better was the little dirt hill the kids could ride these vehicles down! Noah spent a lot of time getting into, and out of this little toy car.
I remember my nieces doing the exact same thing with the one my mom had bought for them. It was a far more enjoyable activity than actually driving the car. Seeing Noah do this made me smile. There was something so cute about watching him get out of the car, and closing the door behind him.
We returned to the festival in time to see a group of young rockers who call themselves "Eleven Toes". Their cover of Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World", Kiss's "I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night", and "Eh, Oh, Let's Go!" by the Ramones really got the crowd singing along. Noah loved it. 

Totstock ended with a parade, though we had to leave shortly before this finale. We were definitely glad we checked out this event, and hope to return next year!

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