Discovery Center to hold Kids Food Festival during Birthplace of Route 66 Festival

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – The Birthplace of Route 66 Festival is back this weekend for the first time in three years (because of the pandemic), and while there are a lot of activities in conjunction with the event, one hidden gem for the kids is hiding in plain sight.

“We’re here all the time,” said Discovery Center Executive Director Rob Blevins of the children’s interactive science center located on St. Louis Street in downtown Springfield right on old Route 66.

So if you find the kids are getting restless in the hot sun at the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival, the Discovery Center might be an oasis of fun.

“We’ll have air conditioning,” Blevins said. “If it’s raining, you’ll be able to get in and out of the rain. And we’ll have our 60,000 square feet of awesome hands-on science open and available to the public those days.”

And if you haven’t been to the Discovery Center since the pandemic broke out?

“Come back and rediscover us,” Blevins said. “We have countless new exhibits. We have an entirely new gallery called the Lu Interactive Indoor Digital Playground. It’s a 16-by-20-foot wall where you take these soft dodge balls and throw them against the wall, and it interacts with you. It has both educational and game choices. We have an augmented reality sandbox where you interact with the sand, and there’s a visualization that’s projected on top of the sand that actually changes in real-time. We have the Minecraft exhibit where kids get to build with Minecraft blocks in real life. We have an indoor farm where we grow 500-1,000 plants a month, allowing us to feed our community and our school kids.”

Right now, the center is amid summer camps, but that’s just part of the year-round school programs, tutoring, and daycare facilities the Discovery Center offers as it continues to expand its services to the community.

“The Discovery Center actually provided an anchor for reinvigorating and reestablishing Springfield downtown,” Blevins pointed out. “When we were founded back in the early 1990’s, downtown Springfield wasn’t necessarily a place where families wanted to go. By choosing this location, we’ve made it apparent that this is a safe and good place.”

Besides being a place for families to hang out during the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival, the Discovery Center is also having a Kids Food Festival on Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm, where families can sample a variety of local eateries.

“Hot dogs, pancakes, ravioli, pizza, all the kids food that they love with water, popcorn, snow cones, and gelato,” Blevins said. “We’ll also have bounce houses, slides, and a couple of water activities.”

Tickets, which include food, drinks, and Discovery Center admission, are:

$10 for adult members and $5 for children members

$15 for adult non-members and $10 for children non-members

The money raised from the event goes to a good cause.

“It will help us raise scholarship funds for low-income families so that they can come to visit the Discovery Center and interact with it in the same way everyone else can,” Blevins said.

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