LOUISE: Fall Festival
Growing up in a small farming community during the ‘50s was about as good as it gets, especially in October. There was the beauty of fall foliage and crisp cool air, but the best thing was a fun indoor carnival, which our little country school hosted for the whole community.
The gymnasium would be full of events for all ages. Each grade in the school was responsible for some type of booth. I remember the year I was in 5th grade we had a candy store. Each student was asked to “volunteer” to bring certain homemade sweets. I agreed to bring candy apples, though in truth I had never tasted the delicacy. My mother was stunned when she found out what I was expected to bring. She had never made such a thing and truly had no desire to cook sugary syrup in which to dip an apple. Seemed fruitless to her (pardon the pun). But knowing her daughter would never make it on her own, she managed to get a recipe and help me make candy apples. Not sure of their success. Well, they were purchased. Just not sure if they were eaten, as hard as the candy turned out to be.
One of the favorite carnival offerings was a cakewalk where you walked around a room to music then stopped on cue. Whoever happened to be standing on the magic square won a cake and there were dozens of scrumptious homemade prizes.
Bingo was a big hit for the adults. They could sit and play the game while their kids roamed the gym. High school seniors were usually responsible for the bingo bonanza set in the middle of the chaos. For weeks prior to the carnival, students would go into town and beg local merchants to donate items for prizes. The proceeds from the booth went toward their senior trip at the end of the year.
Mrs. Carder’s first grade class always had the fishpond where little ones could hold a cane pole and throw the line over a decorative screen that looked like a pool of water with gold fish. Older students behind the scene would clip a small toy onto the clothespin at the end of the line and give a jerk so the kids knew they caught a fish. Smiles on their faces were priceless.
And so it went throughout the event. Lots of creative booths and games to play. Ring toss. Basketball throw, and of course, a spook house. New booths appeared each year by imaginative classes. When I was in 7th grade, our class came up with something no one had thought of—the marriage booth. Couples could “marry” in a darkened locker room by a pretend preacher. Plastic wedding rings were provided and a kiss was expected at the end of the ceremony. There was always a line waiting at this event.
The carnival was such a fun time and all I ever knew Halloween to be. No “trick or treat” at Wilson. So imagine how excited I was when my granddaughter asked me to come to Arkansas a few years ago and attend her school carnival. What fun. We had our nails polished ten different colors, face painted, and got in line for the haunted house. But when a mummy reached out and grabbed six-year-old Alexandria, it was goodbye scary stuff. We found a game with stuffed animals instead. What a great evening, making memories with my granddaughter while remembering my own childhood.
I may be wrong, but I think my alma mater still holds a fall festival. If not, they should. It’s definitely a memory maker.