Families are invited to come out to the 20th annual Kidsfest Sept. 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Berkeley Mall.

The free event, designed to educate children and their families about health and safety in a fun, child-friendly environment, has a new addition this year.

Pet safety will be discussed for the first time ever at Petsmart, just behind Berkeley Mall.

Children will learn about how to approach animals, how to handle service animals, knowing that animals must be vaccinated and kept healthy and more.

The rest of the event will be on the mall premises, both inside and outside in front of J.C. Penney. It is organized by Wayne Community College, the Wayne County Health Department, the Partnership for Children of Wayne County, The Bridge Church, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, several local fire departments and local law enforcement agencies.

Also at the event there will be a Big Truck Rodeo where children can see and touch fire and rescue vehicles.

There will also be a Bicycle Rodeo.

"The Bicycle Rodeo will be done by the Optimist Club, and they do four a year, so we are lucky to have one of them happening for us," said Wayne Community College Public Information Officer Tara Humphries. "The Big Truck Rodeo is just where we have all the fire trucks and all the first responders' vehicles. We're going to have the MRAP vehicle out there that everybody wants to explore."

Health Education Supervisor Celita Graham, with the Wayne County Health Department, said the event is designed to educate children on all the different aspects of what first responders do and general rules of safety.

The event will provide child safety seat checks, a signup to have up to three free smoke alarms installed in your home, a fingerprinting and identification station for children and a spot for Operation Medicine Drop.

Operation Medicine Drop is an initiative in which people can stop by and drop off prescription medication with the Wayne County Sheriff's Office with no questions asked so it can be disposed of safely.

"People have been known to go through the garbage to try to find drugs that they might could make other drugs out of," Humphries said. "Also, to keep it out of the water because we don't want people flushing things."

There will be entertainment for children on stages inside and outside the mall, and mascots such as Sparky, Smokey Bear and more will be on hand at the festival to meet everyone.

The event comes at an opportune time to educate people on public safety and health issues, as September is National Preparedness Month, Child Passenger Safety Month, National Recovery Month, National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and Baby Safety Month.

"Many of the things we are conquering at this event are awareness month topics," Humphries said.