The numbers are impressive: 500 performers representing 36 groups from 12 states and four countries and 1,200 volunteers.

Their goal is simple -- to celebrate kids and the performing arts.

The 17th International Children's Festival will take place at Wolf Trap Farm Park Saturday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The three-day event will feature everything from folk dances and gospel hymns to magic tricks and acrobatic routines.

Hands-on workshops and demonstrations range from Chinese kite-making and early American quill pen writing to Polish and Mexican paper crafts. And what would a festival be without mimes, clowns and face painting?

Betty Reed, the festival's communications director, suggests bringing a picnic and spending the day.

Among the international groups performing are the Zdravets, 17 young folk dancers from Bulgaria, and the Children's Folk Sports Presentation, young acrobats from Taiwan. Local groups include the gospel singing World Mission for Christ Choir and the D.C. Youth Orchestra in collaboration with Bob Schneider and the Rainbow Kids.

"The festival will go on rain or shine but we're looking for sunny skies," says Reed.

Tickets are $3 for kids and senior citizens and $5 for adults if purchased in advance, $4 and $6 if purchased at the gate. Kids 4 years old and under get in free.

Metro bus service will be available from the West Falls Church station from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. For more information, call 941-1527.