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Don't Miss Wonderfest on Saturday

The second annual Wonderfest children's festival takes over the parking lot behind St. Andrews Shopping Center on Saturday

Celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of summer with the largest kids festival in the area Saturday at Wonderfest.

Now in it's second year, Wonderfest, organized by Wonder Works and sponsored by , News 2 and the Post and Courier, welcomes kids of all ages to a day of free entertainment, activities and more from 10 a.m - 3 p.m. Saturday, June 2.

"Everything about the event is free," said Wonder Works owner Christine Osborne. "It's for kids, by kids, to benefit kids."

For the past 20 years Osborne has run Wonder Works stores in , and Downtown Charleston that sell toys with a scientific bent. She has also been a strong supporter of charitable and entrepreneurial efforts created by children in the Charleston area.

Wonderfest will continue with that theme by raising money and collecting donations for four local non-profit groups; Hugs for Harper, Happy Wheels, Abby's Friends and Keys for Hope.

Many of Osborne's customers have taken it upon themselves to address various needs they see in the community. One in particular was Harper Drolet. Diagnosed with a rare pediatric cancer Drolet, after spending a lot of time at MUSC Children's Hospital started collecting toys for the hospital's Happy Wheels program that provides children receiving treatment with playthings while they are in the hospital. Drolet also went on to work with LEARN Horse Rescue before she died last September.

The Hugs for Harper Endowment carries on Drolet's charity work and continues to raise money for pediatric cancer research.

Abby's Friends was created to fund research into Type I diabetes, also known as childhood diabetes. In 2006 Abby Sutterlin was diagnosed with diabetes at age 4. Her parents began asking friends for help raising awareness and funding for juvenile diabetes and Abby's Friends was born.

Keys For Hope was created by two Mount Pleasant kids that are trying to raise $1 million for the new Crisis Ministries homeless shelter planned for Downtown Charleston. They decorate and sell keys as pendant necklaces. The keys represent shelter and hope.

"It's incredible what they can do, and what they do do is even more incredible," Osborne said of the young entrepreneurs. "If the kids can do it, we can support them."

Admission to Wonderfest is free and all activities inside are as well, with a slight exception. The festival will include a dunking booth and three inflatable play structures including an obstacle course and slides. Every child will get a free turn at each, but they can also purchase a $5 hand-stamp that allows unlimited turns. Each of the four charities will get proceeds from hand stamps, along with any donations people want to make.

Other free activities include face painting, a child identification station sponsored by Prudential, equestrian training and pony rides provided by LEARN Horse Rescue, a puppy and kitten adoption station, a toy play zone and a Lego building area.

Wonderfest also includes a full schedule of live entertainment throughout the event. At 10 a.m. Karoline Rhett will join Mayor Joe Riley for the opening ceremony to sing the National Anthem. Jillian Campbell & Company take the stage from 10:15 - 10:45 a.m., followed by Peace Love Hip Hop at 10:45 a.m. The Charleston Youth Company will perform from 11:15 - 11:45 a.m. Then they Yo Yo Boys will take the stage for a 15-minute yo yo demonstration. At noon Rhett returns to the stage for a 15-minute set, followed by The 3 Dudes for an hour-long performance from 12:15 - 1:15 p.m. Krissy McKown & Company will take the stage at 1:15 p.m. followed by Caroline Renaud and Eddie Stonaker at 1:45 p.m. Rhett will perform again at 2:15 p.m., and Caitlin Patton will close out the festival starting at 2:30 p.m.

Additionally five national toy companies - Toysmith, Zing, Myachi, Monkeez & Friends and Pumponator - will also have representatives at Wonderfest to show off some of their new toys and will be providing the free toys that every attendee can take home. Several dozen local businesses will also be participating, including more than 20 created by child entrepreneurs.

Happy Camper Snoballs will also be at Wonderfest, and Harris Teeter is providing a free hot dog, drink and serving of Hunter Farms Ice Cream to everyone. 

Osborne said she is expecting about 3,000 people to attend. Last year the festival drew 2,000.

Wonderfest runs 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot behind St. Andrews Shopping Center. Overflow parking will be offered on Hanckel Farm on Coburg Road.

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