While most executives are just arriving in Cannes the weekend before MIPCOM, another event will already be in full swing. Dedicated children’s programming event MIPJunior will open its doors as usual, two days prior to the main event. This year, the kids market is set to take place October 1-2 at the Martinez Hotel, a short walk up or down the Croisette from the Palais des Festival where MIPCOM is held.

But just because it’s for kids programming, doesn’t mean MIPJunior is small potatoes: Organizers expect a reported 600 companies, including 500 buyers from 35 countries to participate in roughly 40,000 screenings. Plus, with the Kids’ Jury Awards, the 8th annual Licensing Challenge, the world’s largest library of youth and children’s programming and a number of seminars and sessions for buyers and sellers, MIPJunior 2011 promises to be a whole lot more than child’s play. VideoAge talked to a handful of children’s programming execs to find out their plans for the event.

Andrew Berman, FremantleMedia’s newly appointed vice president of Distribution, Children’s Programming and Family Entertainment confirmed that Fremantle will definitely have a presence at MIPJunior. He outlined his goals thus: “We are participating in MIPJunior and planning to meet with many of our buyers during the weekend of that gathering. It’s a great opportunity to focus on our business sector and to see all of the key players in it.”

From the Canadian pavilion is Breakthrough Entertainment. Vice president of Distribution Nat Abraham noted that he will be using the event to “target children’s buyers who may not attend [MIPCOM].” He added that one of the mini-market’s biggest advantages is to “have those extra days to screen your newer shows with those buyers.”

The MIPJunior enthusiasm seemed to be contagious among Canadians, “It’s a great way to showcase our programs,” said Toronto-based Nelvana Enterprises vice president, Worldwide Sales, Jerry Diaz. The Nelvana team will be highlighting such series as Detentionaire, Beyblade: Metal Fusion and the second season of Babar and the Adventures of Badou among other animated properties.

Louis Fournier, VP, Sales and Acquisitions for Toronto-based Portfolio Entertainment described MIPJunior as “an invaluable market for children’s programming,” adding that he will have a team there.

As usual, buyers will also be on hand at MIPJunior. Italian broadcaster Switchover Media is sending a contingent, headed by Content Acquisition manager Paola Chincoli. Giuliano Tranquilli, the company’s Content Development and Programming partner noted, “We believe that [MIPJunior] is the most effective way to get an extensive overview of the upcoming kids TV production in two days. The pre-MIP weekend also gives us a chance to set on-site meetings with producers/distributors in a more informal and less hectic atmosphere compared to the frenzy of the actual MIPCOM market.”