HANCOCK COUNTY — There were no tears, sad stories of abuse or harsh issues to discuss Saturday at the Hancock County Fairgrounds. That’s where officials from Zoey’s Place Child Advocacy Center held their annual carnival designed to bring awareness to the work the program does in the community.

Zoey’s Place is one of Indiana’s newer child advocacy centers. Established on paper in 2016, the center grew out of a growing demand to improve prosecution rates among child abusers in Hancock County.

During the carnival, hundreds of area children had the opportunity to play dozens of interactive games, such as tossing a football or breaking balloons, jumping in bounce houses and even riding on farm animals.

Katie Molinder, executive director of Zoey’s Place, said the carnival was a huge success with more support, more community involvement and a lot more fun for the kids and families.

“We doubled our bounce houses and added pony rides because we just thought the kids would really like that,” Molinder said. “The weather could not have been more perfect.”

Molinder noted while they raised some money for the child advocacy center, the carnival was all about bringing awareness toward helping protect kids.

“We had a kid say to us today, ‘Oh, it’s the house with the happy face on it,’ and we love that,” Molinder said. “This is all about that awareness piece so the community knows were are here to help when life gets hard.”

The event was open to the whole community and was about letting kids be kids, but also about sharing how the advocacy center works and is available for families who need it.

“We answered a lot of questions today about who we are and what we do,” Molinder said. “It was a way for us to give back to the community.”

Molinder pointed out how important it is for the community to know abused children have a place to share their story through professional forensic interviews.

As the county grows, so does the need for the child advocacy center. Molinder said their current location on North Street in Greenfield has served them well starting out, but it’s time to improve and make significant changes. Since they’ve outgrown the current house location, officials are hoping to find a new home for the center immediately.

“We have grown so much this year, including adding a third employee because of the need in the community,” Molinder said. “We’re just too small.”

She noted they are looking to name a new location in the immediate future.

“We’re going to have the same feel, the same safe house feeling for kids and families,” Molinder said.

Miles Hercamp is on the Zoey’s Place Board of Directors and spent the afternoon helping at the carnival and cleaning when it was over. He said it had been a good day for awareness.

Hercamp was also excited to talk about the need for Zoey’s Place to find a larger home within the county so they can help more kids.

“We’re hoping to be able to move to a new facility within the next couple of months,” Hercamp said. “We’ve got a place we’re looking at, but nothing has been finalized just yet.”