he Seattle International Children’s Festival will celebrate its 10th season in downtown Tacoma with a new name: Giant Magnet.
Organizers of the event, which has been bringing performers from around the globe to the Puget Sound area for more than two decades, decided the old name was too limiting and too long and didn’t include the Tacoma portion of the festival, which launched in 2000.
Giant Magnet producing director Brian Faker is a Tacoma native who grew up in the Parkland/Spanaway area.
“There’s always that little tickle you get when it’s Seattle coming down here to show us how it’s done,” he says. “The Tacoma show has its own character and its own vibe.”
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Faker says Giant Magnet, which opens today at Seattle Center and Sunday at the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts in Tacoma, is a celebration of world cultures through the arts.
“We are trying to attract children and artists into the same space, so it’s a meeting of different cultures,” he says. He points to one example, the old-time string band known as the Carolina Chocolate Drops. The trio is performing in the Giant Magnet festival without its female member, who is due to give birth soon. Remaining members have invited supporting musicians who will play instruments like the bones, and use hand percussion. They call themselves the Gentlemen of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Friends.
“I love when young people make great music by reaching into the past traditions of their elders,” Faker says. He says the performers can show kids that those traditions can be “every bit as cool” as modern music.
This year, the Tacoma Giant Magnet festival will feature a lineup that includes the Chocolate Drops, European jugglers and acrobats, Sufi dancers from India, a German magical clown, Japanese music and more.
There’s a variety show featuring multiple acts on Sunday, and additional performances by six groups Monday. The Monday shows are aimed at school groups, but are open to the public.
Faker says Giant Magnet strives to deliver performances that are out of the ordinary.
“That’s what keeps us going,” he says.
Debbie Cafazzo: 253-597-8635