Ripken Stadium opened the gates for the first time this season and welcomed the community for a day of free family fun at the 10th annual IronFest.
According to Chris Stieber, corporate sales representative for the Ironbirds, 2,000 people were expected to attend Saturday’s event.
Although it was a day for season ticket holders to pick up their tickets, many came just for the fun of it. And there was plenty of fun to be had. This was one of the few opportunities offered for fans to play around on the field.
Kids could run the bases and get a high, or low, five from Aberdeen Ironbirds mascot Ferrous as they crossed home plate. Plus, there was batting practice and on-field festivities, such as race the bases. Lots of parents saw this as a great opportunity for those once-in-a-lifetime photos of their kids on the field.
The festivities also included getting to play in Kids Zone, which included the Moon Bounce, seeing how fast you can really throw a ball according to the speed gun, and getting to swat a few balls into an inflatable cage.
If being a spectator is as close to athletics as you get, there were other activities, as well.
The caricature booth drew quite a bit of interest. The line snaked along but moved surprisingly fast as Dave Thompson of Rick Wright and Co. sketched up some unique keepsakes. Thompson said this was his first time doing this at IronFest, although he’s worked there before doing corporate events.
There was also balloon twisting, which attracted more than just a few kids. According to balloon artist Jessica Wagner, owner of Middle River-based Creative Occasions, the most frequent requests were for pirate swords, baseball hats and flowers. Although she’s only been doing this since October, you would never be able to tell by the ease with which she twisted those tubes of air into whimsical creations.
Face painting was another popular attraction. With the throng of kids surrounding Lucky (Lindy) Scarbrough, she was one busy lady in her signature tie-dyed coat. Based in Abingdon, Lucky is a full-time children’s entertainer including clowning and balloon art. She is also a certified face painter for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. She said the most popular faces for girls are the tigress and the butterfly. The boys all want to be super heroes, such as Spider Man and Batman.
The Red Cross brought two mobile donation buses to help out with a more serious cause. Rob Rossi, a Red Cross account executive, said that 68 people were scheduled to donate blood at IronFest, and noted that it was their third year there and that they’ll be back again next year. Rossi said they host roughly two dozen mobile blood drives a month in Harford County and they face stiff competition for people’s time. “An hour’s time can save three people’s lives,” he said.
Kia Rice, from Belcamp, a phlebotomist for the Red Cross said, “People are surprised when they learn it only takes seven to 10 minutes to donate a pint of blood.”
She recommends that people prepare themselves for donating by eating a hearty meal ahead of time and to make sure they drink plenty of fluids to plump up their veins. And, if you haven’t donated because you’re afraid of fainting, Rice reported that it only happens to a small percentage of people.
Even if you weren’t a season ticket-holder, there were plenty of reasons to come out and enjoy IronFest. And, by the look of it, people definitely had a fun day at Aberdeen’s own ballpark. If you weren’t there on Saturday, plan ahead and join the festivities next year.