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The 21st annual Youth & Family Services Kids Fair kicks off this weekend, featuring dozens of booths and free hands-on activities.

The event will take place Friday through Sunday at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

Families attending will be able to wander through Rushmore Hall, the Concorde Area and Barnett Arena to visit different attractions, vendors and activities geared toward children. In addition, they'll be contributing to the organization's many programs that serve more than 13,000 children and families around western South Dakota.

"The funds all go toward programs and fixed costs for our agency," said Brianna Nelson, communications coordinator for Youth & Family Services. "Our Girls Incorporated program is always in need of support, and our Child Development Center."

The last several years have drawn around 11,000 people to the Kids Fair, Nelson said. This year's fundraising goal is set at $50,000, something the event will probably top: 2015's fair raised $74,261.

"It's a substantial amount and we're always very excited, but the programs do need a lot of funding," Nelson said. "We have a lot of families to serve, and we can always do better."

Admission to the event is $5 per person per day, and covers everything other than food. Activities include past favorites such as the face-painting booth, mini train rides, a bounce house and an inflatable obstacle course.

"Parents are often parked outside the bounce houses for quite a while," Nelson said. "Kids love those."

Nelson also said that The Journey Museum's mobile planetarium will return. She described it as an inflatable tent with a projector that helps explain planets and other space-related subjects. Rushmore Cave, meanwhile, will bring their mobile kids cave back after it was a hit at last year's event.

New attractions include a trampoline bounce and new vendor booths. Chevrolet will host a booth this year, as will Cabela's Archery. 

There will be a total of around 80 booths geared toward children.

Nelson added that YFS was deeply appreciative of how people come together every year to aid them in providing a great experience for kids and giving back to the community.

"We have so many dedicated people coming back because they know it's fun for kids and it's going to a great cause," Nelson said.

"I think kids will walk in and think, 'This is for me.' I can't imagine any kid not loving that experience."

For more information, call 342-4195.

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Contact Max B. O'Connell at 394-8427 or

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