EASTON — Idlewild Park was rockin’ last Saturday, May 11, with music, food, entertainment, games and more for the fifth annual BAAM Fest.

BAAM stands for Building African American Minds.

The morning began with a basketball tournament, then a free lunch was the beginning of an afternoon of fun.

Activities included Lollipop the Clown, juggling by Carlos Mir, face painting by Jolie Faces and a photo booth to honor Mother’s Day weekend as kids and their moms posed together.

There was a dance contest and the awarding of basketball tournament and dance prizes.

DJ Chyna spun his special ambiance over the park with upbeat tunes as the crowd ate, played games and visited vendors.

The Exclusives, a nine-member ensemble with guitar, brass and reeds, set up shop in the park’s bandstand and entertained much of the southern end of town late into the afternoon.

Hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, side dishes and more were provided for free by Frase’s Grills on Wheels of Preston.

Free ice cream and sherbet was provided by Victor Barlow of the Scottish Highland Creamery of Oxford.

BAAM began in 2004 with the initial goal of helping African-American male students who were at risk for not being able to learn effectively because of health or socioeconomic barriers. The program was designed for students from first through fifth grades.

The initial program met three days a week after school, concentrating on helping with reading and math skills.

That program has grown to include first- through eighth-graders, four days a week. In addition, hundreds of boys and their families have been able to attend overnight camping trips, sporting events, educational tours, amusement parks, museums and many other events that support family togetherness.

BAAM also offers summer programs that feature a wide variety of activities, including sports, camping, gardening and cooking.

In 2016, BAAM opened its own building at 31 Jowite St., and most recently, it is working on a BAAM Athletic Center. Currently, a BAAM Academic Center is in the fundraising and planning stage.

Since BAAM began 15 years ago serving five families, their services have grown to serve over 200 families, according to officials.

The BAAM Fest is made possible by an anonymous donor, and more than 20 community partners and donations from more than 23 area businesses.

This year’s festival was given in memory of Leah Thornton Lozano.

BAAM is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and all gifts are tax deductible. Donations can be sent to Building African American Minds Inc., P.O. Box 1066, Easton, MD 21601. For information, visit https://baam boys.com/.

Follow me on Twitter @chrisp_stardem. Email me at cpolk@stardem.com.

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