OTTUMWA — Family Fest returned to Bridge View on Saturday to promote health, education, organizations in the community and a variety of activities and fun for families.

Alyssa Conway and Taylor Mustion came to promote Indian Hills’ dental hygiene program. Conway did it in a unique way that drew several children to her: dressing like a tooth fairy.

Mustion loved watching kids come up to Conway every five minutes and seeing them take away dental hygiene tips. Both of them told families to always brush their teeth twice a day and floss. Every kid pointed to their teeth showing the tooth fairy princess just how many they had.

Conway didn’t know she was going to dress up as a tooth fairy prior to her arrival, but was glad she did.

“It was more of a surprise to me,” Conway said with a laugh. “Our program director Jody Williams has the president [of Dental Defenders, Indian Hills’ dental hygiene club] dress up as a tooth fairy to help promote the program and really get kids interested in taking care of their teeth and oral health.”

It was Mustion’s and Conway’s first time coming out. They loved seeing the families walk by learning about the different services in town.

“It’s got so many different opportunities and things for families and kids,” Mustion said. “There’s a lot of community health around that a lot of people didn’t know about, so this helps to get the word out there.”

Conway agreed. “It’s great that there are so many programs, too,” she said, “even if parents are interested in something, too. It’s both for kids and parents to come, which is pretty awesome. It’s hard to find a balance of both in places like this.”

Family Fest was a treat for both of them, even though it meant taking time out of their busy college schedules to come. “We’d be happy to help because I mean we’re getting the word out for the dental clinic, because it’s pretty new,” Conway said, “but then also just to help promote people taking care of their teeth and seeing kids have a fun day with their parents.”

It was certainly a fun time for Beth and Scott Cecil and their 2-year-old grandson Kai Lathrop. They came because Scott thought it would be an exciting time for them to come. Beth enjoyed herself, too, shifting around the different booths trying to keep an eye on Kai.

“It’s really unique that the community has come together and provided something for families to get to know different aspects of our community that helps parents, grandparents,” Beth Cecil said.

The Cecils and Kai were among the many in line to try Lily Kester’s “tie dye apples.” Kester described the steps, washing the apples, slicing them and then adding sugar-free gelatin mix. Kester wanted to showcase that eating healthy can be fun and delicious.

“It makes it a fun and healthy way to eat apples,” Kester said. Kester gave attendees the option to try the “tie dye apples,” offering three flavors: orange, lime and strawberry. Kai loved the tie dye apple with the orange flavor.

Other kids like 2-year-old Ryleigh Ryan only wanted a plain apple slice, and her 9-year-old cousin Chloe Wolver didn’t care for it. Their grandmother, Sheila Noel, didn’t mind too much. Noel just loved being with her granddaughters and seeing them enjoy themselves. Ryleigh and Chloe both had favorite things from the festival.

Noel asked Ryleigh what she enjoyed the most, to which Ryleigh replied, “the bouncy house.”

“I liked being together and getting together as a family,” Chloe said. The lemonade cookies she got from the Lemonade Day stand were also her favorites.

Noel watched with joy as her granddaughters spoke with enthusiasm. Noel has been taking her granddaughters to Family Fest each year and always comes back because of the enjoyment her family gets from it.

“I like that we’re exposed to some many different things,” she said, “things that we might not see. It’s fun, it’s not expensive; it’s wonderful that there’s no fee here.”

Chiara Romero can be reached at

Chiara Romero can be reached at


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