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Celebrating the season: Area churches hold fall festivals

By Charlotte Stewart cstewart@news-journal.com
Oct. 28, 2011 at 10 p.m.

The 2,600 people who attended the Halloween alternative High Light Night at Longview Christian Church a year ago have a smorgasbord of choices this weekend despite High Light Night's cancellation.

First United Methodist Church, 400 N. Fredonia St., has the biggest and best First Family Fest the church has put on, said Cindy Coleman, Faith Center Director at the church.

"It's for families in all ages and stages - kids and adults," she said.

From 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, the church's north lawn will be transformed into nothing short of fairgrounds, with numerous booths, hot dogs and all the fixings, drinks, candy, a cookie walk, cookie decorating (and eating), and an inflatable obstacle course.

"It's something a 6-year-old can do but a 16-year-old loves doing, and we'll let a 60-year-old climb it if they want to," Coleman said of the 70-foot-long bounce house-style obstacle course.

The party will also feature the GameLAN Video Van, a popular mobile video game party theater that is a major attraction at various events and festivals.

Everything is free, she said, including family portraits.

"We used to be oriented more toward small children, but this is really for the whole family. It's for fellowship. The Bible tells us to fellowship together, and we wanted to do something everyone in our church could enjoy," Coleman said.

But the festivities are not limited to church members.

"This is definitely open to the public. We want to extend an invitation to the community to please come out and join us," she said. "This is our opportunity to show people that God loves them and that we love them, too."

In case of rain, the activities will move inside to the Faith Center.

Mobberly Baptist Church on Loop 281 is also planning to do things bigger and better than ever.

"We try to add something every year," associate minister to children Sharon Brooks said about Festival 31.

Unlike many of the weekend fall celebrations, Festival 31 falls on Monday.

Children who are determined to celebrate on Halloween with parents who are determined the celebration be safe can each have it their own way.

From 5 to 8 p.m., the young and young at heart may enjoy the bounce house, obstacle course, inflatable slide, big wheel race, hayride, pumpkin bowling, cake walk, putt putt, balloon animals and lots of candy.

"This is one of our big gifts to the community," Brooks said. "It's free, really, but we are asking people to bring a can of food to donate to Longview Community Ministries' Food Box. It's just another way of being a blessing to the community."

The addition to this year's event is the "train" ride. The popular hayride will be longer than usual, thanks to the generosity of the landowner next to the church.

"We'll wind through the woods and go by a big pond," Brooks said of the hayride, which she estimates to be about eight minutes long.

"We'll also have lots and lots of prizes. People need to be sure to register for a prize," she said.

Several snack and food items will be for sale, "mostly $1 or $2 items," she said.

Children are welcome to dress up, though scary costumes are discouraged.

Brooks encouraged people to park in the church's back parking lot, as most of the front parking lot will be taken up with activities. A shuttle will take people from the parking lot to the festival area, she said. She expects up to 3,000 festival goers to visit the church.

"We believe that God loves the community and wants us to love the community, and we want to provide a safe and fun place for the community to come and enjoy the fall season," Brooks said.

First Baptist Church is participating with WellnessPointe, which approached the church about having an Up2Bat event at the church's Recreational Outreach Center.

"This is something a little different, not a fall fest, but in lieu of a fall fest, something that is very family-oriented," said Julee Rachels, who heads up the ROC.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, the community is invited to load up the family and enjoy free music, food and games at the ROC. Like Mobberly, First Baptist is asking for a donation of a can of food.

"Everything is interactive," Rachels said. "For instance, there will be a maze at the skate park, and one family member will lead a blindfolded family member through the maze."

Like FUMC, free family portraits will be available.

"We'll have lots of booths set up with a lot of information. This is just an event to promote the well-being of the family," she said.

Many other area churches are celebrating, including:

St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 401 E. Main St., Kilgore, continues its annual pumpkin patch through Sunday. The patch is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, 214 College St., Henderson, continues its annual pumpkin patch through Sunday. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. For information, call (903) 657-3154.

Emmanuel Baptist Church, 501 U.S. 80 in White Oak, has a Pumpkin Patch through Monday, open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and Monday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Today's special events include face and pumpkin painting, photo opportunities, bake sale and a raffle. For more information call (903) 261-5543.

St. Mark Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, 1100 Sapphire St., will hold its annual Fall Fest celebrations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. The event will feature moonwalks, hayrides and other activities for children. The event will also feature a deejay and a health fair with information and screenings available. The event is open to the public. Barbecue chicken lunches will be sold for $10 per plate. All proceeds will benefit the St. Mark Youth Department. For information call (903) 240-3464 or (903) 753-3210.

East Texas Christian School has set 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today as the Fall Festival in the school parking lot at 5621 FM 2087 in Longview. The festival will have more than 25 game booths, a bounce house, dunking booth and a hayride. Admission is free, but booth tickets are four for $1. For information call (903) 757-7891.

The Ore City Ministerial Alliance is holding a fall festival from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at the city park, pole barn and community center. Activities include game booths, gospel music, bounce houses and a chili cookoff. At 6 p.m., the Lions Club is dedicating a fiberglass lion that the club donated to be placed at the park.

Hickory Grove Baptist Church, Kilgore, will celebrate Fall Fest from 4 to 6 p.m. today at 4239 County Road 384 East. No costumes will be allowed. Activities include inflatable toys, hayrides, games, face painting, a cake walk, complementary photos, free food and more.

Holy Trinity Community Church, 3800 Judson Road, has scheduled a carnival from 5 to 8 p.m. today. Activities include bounce houses, games, prizes, food and a chance to win a Nintendo 3DS. For information, call (903) 663-2959.

A Trunk or Treat is set for 6 p.m. today at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1700 Blueridge Parkway. Activities include a chili cook-off, hot dogs, bounce house and games as well as candy. Masks are not appropriate to the event, organizers said. Everyone is welcome.

The Galilee Baptist Church of Hallsville Youth Ministry has set its annual fall fest for 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday with various games and hayrides at the church at 415 Galilee Road.

Fall Fest at Parkway Baptist Church, 1600 Blueridge Parkway, is set for 6 to 8 p.m. Monday. The festival includes games, hot dogs, drinks, cotton candy, popcorn and candy for all ages.



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