The pandemic put a stop to many fun summertime activities. Kids weren’t able to go to playgrounds, visit water parks or play with their friends like usual.

Tashema Davis, a local artist and mother of two young girls, decided to put on an event for little girls in the community just like hers.

“I just feel like they weren’t able to celebrate and have fun this summer,” she said.

Dressed in princess dresses and crowns, 10 little girls made bracelets and necklaces, ate snacks, danced and made crafts at Davis’ Echo Gallery in Marion on Saturday.

“We just came together and celebrated life,” Davis said. “I wanted to focus on little girls, just making them feel beautiful and appreciated, and just valued.”

The “Two Sugars Super Spectacular Sprinkle Extravaganza” also functioned as a book release party for Davis’ seventh book in her “Two Sugahs’’ series.

The children’s book series features art by Davis and stories written by Davis and her daughters. Her most recent book tells the story of Davis as a young girl, she said.

“I always felt different or saw things differently because I was an artsy little person,” Davis laughed. “It’s also about my relationship with God, finding beauty and life and God in the little things, like the wind blowing through the trees or water and fish.”

In her books, Davis does more than paint stories. She paints Black and brown girls in a beautiful way.

After her daughters struggled to find characters in books that looked like themselves, Davis took it upon herself to create books for them.

“Representation matters,” she said.

Lorie Hornaday, a mother of two young girls who attended the event, said Davis’ books encourage her daughters to love themselves.

“I have African American daughters, and I just think it is excellent for them to be able to look up to her and see themselves,” she said. “A lot of her books talk about how beautiful their hair is. It’s just so encouraging, uplifting, a self-esteem builder.”

Hornaday said she heard about the extravaganza after participating in one of Davis’ painting classes the day before.

“I think she is an excellent asset to the community of Marion,” she said. “A lot of people talk about Marion being smaller and not a lot of things to do, but I think there are great things in Marion, and when the opportunity comes, I just think some people don’t take advantage of it.”

To ensure that little girls could participate in the extravaganza, various people in the community bought tickets and told Davis to give them to whoever couldn’t afford it.

“I didn’t consider the price of the ticket to be a hindrance,” Davis said. “I didn’t think of that on my own. Community members stepped up and did that, and I just wanted to say thank you. They made this event possible.”

Davis pointed out the signs around the community that say, “We’re all in this together.”

“That’s very true, and I feel that support at Echo,” she said. “I am not doing this alone.”

Davis said she hopes to do another event soon for both boys and girls.

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