More than 1,000 fourth graders from around Kitsap County gather at the Kitsap Fairgrounds on Tuesday, April 16, for the 19th annual Water Festival.
Put on in coordination with a number of sponsors, the festival is meant to show kids how precious water is and how their actions can help keep it clean.
"A water festival provides concentrated, hands-on learning in a fun and memorable atmosphere…" its pamphlet states, "The program teaches students how their actions affect water quality."
Local water districts pay for transportation so schools can bus their students to the fairgrounds from all over the county. Students from Central Kitsap, Bainbridge, Bremerton, North Kitsap, South Kitsap school districts and a number of private schools participated in the event.
Dozens of exhibitors taught the fourth-graders about water quality, watersheds — nearly every water-related issue imaginable. Navy divers from Keyport swam in a dive tank and interacted with students through a window, waving to them and playing tick-tack-toe through the screen.
Killer Whale Tales was on hand to teach kids about Puget Sound's native whales and magician Steffan Soule showed kids "The Magic of Our Water" in an aquatic-themed magic show.
The water festivities flowed from the pavilion to the President's Hall to the sheep barn, providing the students with more exciting options than they could hope to visit in their time there.
"The idea is to get the kids excited about water and understand the impact we can have on our resources," said Pat Kirschbaum, one of the organizers.
While most of the students were learning about the environment and their effect on water, fourth graders from Clear Creek Elementary were doing the teaching.
Barb Bromley's fourth-grade class have spent the months leading up the water festival performing their own experiments. On Tuesday they had their own booth, where they talked to students from other schools.
Their goal was to show the other kids the small ways they can make a positive impact on the environment. They had a number of commitments people can make to shrink their carbon footprints.
"(We were) trying to come up with something simple but powerful," Bromley said. "So we came up with carbon footprints."
When someone vowed to make certain changes the students would give them a necklace to represent their commitment.
"They really do enjoy it," Bromley said. "They're so proud of themselves, and I'm proud of them, too."