If there is a puddle, my boys will be in it. So when I found out that Common Digs was hosting a Mud Fair, I bought tickets right away. It was the muddiest fun my boys have ever had, and for me, that is really worth it, for all the reasons set out below.
The Mud Fair (now in its second year) was created by Common Digs to celebrate World Forum’s International Mud Day. Starting back in 2009, this global Mud Day was designed to help children connect with nature by playing with and celebrating mud. Common Digs is a social enterprise in Calgary that is trying to reconnect people with the outdoor world; they are responsible for creating Calgary’s first nature kindergarten and also offer forest school programs.
These days most kids are told to stay far away from mud and never to get dirty, making mud out to be a bad thing. Mud Fair does the exact opposite. The Mud Fair brought in clean soil and water to create mud slides, a huge mud pit, a mud treasure area (where the kids had to dig through mud to find treasure), a mud kitchen, and a “clay city” community art installation that anyone could add to. There was also live music, an organic market with various vendors, food trucks, outdoor family yoga, as well as the Priddis and Spruce Meadows Fire Departments giving tours of their fire trucks and hosing people off.
The event itself was held at Lloyd Park in the Red Deer Lake Community (about 5 minutes west of Spruce Meadows). It was a small walk to get from the parking lot to where the Mud Fair was being held, but once the boys caught sight of the mud slide at the entrance to the fair, they couldn’t run there fast enough. I was a little bit surprised when we got to the actual sliding area to see that both Felix and Max were nervous and hesitant. I have seen these boys in action where they run at puddles with wild abandon, getting covered head to toe without any concern, but seeing this much mud triggered their societal instincts and gave them pause. It took a moment for them to watch some other kids sliding down, plus some reassurance that we could indeed clean them off at the end of this adventure, for them to really get into things. After that it wasn’t long before both of the boys were sliding and running down the mud slides. However, things REALLY got muddy when we went to the treasure zone and the mud pit.
The treasure area, filled with buried mucky shiny rock treasure, was where Felix decided he was really going to embrace this whole mud thing. He dug his hands right into the big pile of mud, searching for the hidden treasure that lay waiting. Beside the treasure pit was a big bucket of water with brushes to clean off the treasure. Soon enough, Felix had pulled something from the muddy depths and was racing to clean it off. He was extremely excited to find a really cool shiny red rock underneath all that mud. After Max saw Felix’s rock, he decided that having muddy hands was worth it if it meant finding a treasure rock too. His efforts were also rewarded with an equally cool black rock.
The mud pit was the pinnacle for Felix and it took a lot of restraint for me not to dive in there and roll around too. I did help build mud castles and pull out a stuck rubber boot or two, but Felix was right in there. He had finally lost the reservations he had at the start of the day and he couldn’t stop laughing as he dove, slid, rolled around, and had a mini mud fight. His smile said it all.
The rinse-down station ended up being Max’s favourite, since the water from the fire hose had made a couple really big puddles. Max’s eyes lit up when he saw them and both boys ran at full speed into them. Cleaning them off was a lot easier after they jumped, sat, splashed and ran through the puddles. I did manage to convince them to come out of the puddles for a kombucha and popcorn break (kombucha is a sparkling fermented [but non-alcoholic] tea-based beverage with probiotic qualities that the boys love). After that much play, both boys were starting to feel pretty hungry and thirsty so we found a spot on the grass and had our snack while listening to some live music courtesy of local band Lucky Sonne. Other people were enjoying food from on-site food trucks or snacking on fresh veggies from the growers’ market. It was such a great way to spend a day.
The Mud Fair reminded me of when my brother and I used to run around in the mud on our family’s acreage when we were kids. Those are still some of my best memories and I’m so thankful that my boys got a taste of that today. I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to help my sons connect with nature and have the opportunity to freely explore and play, and events like Mud Fair give them a chance to do just that. They had an absolute blast and now want to build a mud pit in our backyard. We will definitely be at next year’s event and I invite you to come get muddy too.