A few weeks ago, the family and I packed up for some fun at the Big Red Ranch in Osteen to checkout the World Down Syndrome Day festival. This event was hosted by the Down Syndrome Group of Volusia County. The pricing seemed about right, $5 wristbands for games, bounce houses, pony rides, and free admission. We figured we couldn’t really go wrong for our entertainment value!
We try very hard to expose our children to all sorts of things like educational experiences, cultural events, and different activities. On the way to the festival, we figured we would use this as a learning opportunity. We really didn’t know what to expect at the festival, so we decided to have a fairly deep conversation with our almost 3 year old. The results were actually pretty cool, and my son said some things that really made us feel proud!
Throughout his short life, he has been around a few autistic children, but none that had any outwardly apparent differences. We found ourselves in a sort of an awkward conversation, but we all handled it quite well. I was amazed at his responses. When asked if he knew that not all children are alike, he very “matter of fact-ly”, told me that everyone knows that! After all, how boring would it be if we were all the same right? He seemed to understand that it wasn’t nice to stare, and that all people have feelings. We all agreed that if he was curious about something or someone, it was better to go up and say hello than to stare and point.
When we arrived it was late in the afternoon. Not really the best time to visit a horse farm in Florida. Despite the lack of share, we were pleased to find many of the vendors and were still there, and the pony rides were in full swing! After checking out a few of the community booths, we purchased a wristband which gave my little guy unlimited pony rides, bounce house entry, and even a bow and arrow session! Amongst the vendors surrounding what I would describe as decent sized horse pen, were local civic groups including the boy and girl scouts as well as a few community businesses. Due to the heat I would say the Kona Ice trick was probably the most popular booth out there!
The Down Syndrome Group of Volusia County did a great job with their first annual event! I’m told the turnout was great and it was considered a big success! I think that as word spreads about the World Down Syndrome Day Festival, it will get bigger and better with each and every passing year.
I should also mention the Big Red Ranch. This was actually a pretty cool venue to host the World Down Syndrome Day Festival. I would describe it as cozy, with plenty of parking. The Big Red Ranch actually hosts birthday parties, and is an actual active horse rescue. They are available to the public by appointment and are conveniently located just outside of Orlando. You can check them out via Facebook for more information: https://www.facebook.com/BigRedPonyParties
Overall, there were some great activities for the little ones, and we were able to meet some new friends at the World Down Syndrome Day Festival. Not only did we have some fun, but we also had a great learning experience. My little one surprised me, and he’s turning into quite the young little man. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year, and hopefully we’ll be able to make it a bit earlier next time!
For more information, be sure to checkout the Down Syndrome Group of Volusia County: http://www.dsofvolusia.org