Kids Day Weekend 2008 at PNC Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ

Everyday on my wife’s way to work she passes the PNC Bank Arts Center off the Garden State Parkway. Those from the Jersey Shore will know this place well since it is the closest venue to see big-name concerts. It also hosts large festivals and a kick-ass holiday light show. Anyway… my wife kept seeing the ad for Kids Day Weekend as she drove past. We saw it last year as well, but we thought our daughter was a bit young for it. Since she’s about 2 and a half now, this year we decided to check it out.

The event ran from Saturday, October 11 to Sunday, October 12. Saturday’s hours were 11am to 9 pm and Sunday’s hours were 11 am to 6 pm. Parking and admission were free and the only things we had to pay for were rides, attractions and food. We arrived around 3:30 pm and met our good friends who also have a daughter that is our daughter’s age.

First thing we saw as we walked towards the large grass area was a petting zoo with a cow, ducks, sheep and rabbits. We spent a good amount of time there because what 2 year old doesn’t love animals. Right near that was a pony ride, which cost $3 per ride. We waited on line for about 20 minutes, but it was worth it. Also set up in the grass area was a large stage which provided constant entertainment. The grass area was the center of the festival and the parking lots on each side contained the rest of the attractions.

From there we began to walk the lots, passing a ton of food stands on the way to some attractions like the Circus Academy where kids learn to juggle, spin plates, fly on trapeze, walk on stilts and actually perform with the Circus Academy. We spent about 10 minutes watching that, but our kids were too small to participate, so we moved on. We passed the Wild West Show, which consisted of live people wearing old western clothes, but they must have been in between shows when we passed. Also in that lot was a hay ride to go pick pumpkins in a pumpkin patch, but we had other pumpkin picking plans so we opted out of that.

We decided to head over to the other side. Since we were passing the food stands again, we tried to plan what we were going to do for dinner. It was still a bit early so we headed toward the rides, passing little attractions like a dance stage, a fudge stand, games, sponsor stands and a reptile petting area. We paid $1.00 per child for our daughters to go into the tent and pet reptiles like snakes and turtles.

Next stop was the kids’ rides. We spent $11.50 per child to have enough tickets for three rides. Our daughters rode the choo-choo train, drove trucks and rode the horses on the merry-go-round. I was actually impressed with how many different rides they had for people of all sizes. There were much more than your average, local fair or festival.

By this time everyone was hungry and we were losing daylight quick. It was probably around 6 pm when we headed back towards the food stands. My daughter had some incredible corn on the cob, chicken nuggets and some french fries for about $7. My wife had a Philly cheese steak, her own corn on the cob and a bottled water for about $10. I had a chopped pork sandwich and a bottled water for $8. Once we finished eating it was pretty dark, so we decided it was time to go home. Once again we had to go through the food stands. As both our families passed the ice cream stand we couldn’t resist. So another $6 was spent on ice cream for my family.

We decided to walk with our friends to the other side where their car was, mostly to kill time as we ate our ice cream. After saying goodbye we walked across the large grass area while the headlining acts were playing on the stage. It was called “The Big Saturday Night Block Party”, which was hosted by Radio Disney and included three singers, Ashlee Keating, Brock Storm and Savannah Outen. I never heard of any of them, but there were about fifty to sixty screaming girls by the stage, especially for Brock Storm. My daughter is really into music and was begging to get out of her stroller so she could dance. How could we deny her? I was surprised, but we actually stayed and listened Brock Storm’s whole set. My daughter was trying to sing the choruses to some of his songs while dancing. She’s only two! By the time Brock Storm was finished singing, it was after 8 pm, which is usually my daughter’s bed time, so we headed back to the car.

Kids Day Weekend was a great success for us. Five fun-filled hours with a happy two year old for under $50 is a tremendous deal. I highly recommend it when it comes around again next year.

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