Fall Festival Ideas

If you’re a Children’s Pastor or leader of a community program for families, you’re probably somewhere on the spectrum of planning for your annual Fall Festival.  If you haven’t started planning for one, its still not too late, but you only have about a month left, depending on when you hold it.

Before I list out some ideas that I’ve seen work, here are a few thoughts about the Church Fall Festival:

1. Is Halloween Sinful?  Halloween as a celebration may have plenty of pagan roots, but the day itself is relative to a sacred day in the Christian calendar: All Saint’s Day.  In fact, Halloween literally means “All Hallows (Saints) Eve” or the day before All Saints Day (which is November 1st).  So don’t be ashamed to have a Fall Festival on or around October 31st.  If anything, it is a great way to celebrate the fall harvest (God’s blessings) and the saints who have gone before us.  The day itself is not sinful.  But humans are sinners, so what people do with the celebration can either be sinful or God-honoring.

2. What about the kids dressing up?  This, of course, is a subjective matter that is best left up to the parents.  In my opinion, there’s nothing necessarily sinful about kids dressing up for Halloween or a Fall Festival.  I think it would be unwise to dress your son as Freddy Krueger and your daughter as The Witch of Endor.  But most kids these days are going more for the Spiderman or Tangled look anyway, which I believe is fine.  Dressing up and/or sharing candy and snacks is usually a harmless way to let kids have some fun in the Fall.

So here are some ideas for Church Fall Festivals:

1. Trunk or Treat: This is a classic Midwestern tradition where a church packs out their parking lot on Halloween night (or nearby on the calendar) with open car and truck trunks full of candy and decorations.  It’s like a big tailgate party and the kids dress up, go from trunk to trunk and get their candy.  It is both fun and easy to do.  People can be as creative as they like with their tailgate set up.  It’s also fun to bring in a Firetruck, some bounce houses for the little ones, and serve snacks for everyone (hot dogs, popcorn drinks).

2. Harvest Festival: I remember going to these as a kid.  This is a carnival-like atmosphere with games like apple-bobbing, the cake walk, raffles, hayrides, pumpkin carving, smores at a campfire, and lots of hot apple cider.  Its hard to go wrong with a good old-fashioned Harvest Festival.

3. Music: The Fall Festival is a great time to feature some good music, whether its Bluegrass, Rock, Folk, or really whatever you like.  Bring in a Square Dance caller and get everybody moving and laughing.

4. Entertainment: I’ve performed at many Fall Festivals with my juggling show and it always seems to be a perfect atmosphere for some family friendly entertainment.  You can have games, treats, hayrides, activities up to a certain point, then you shut everything down and have a featured performer of some sort (juggler, magician, dance group, ventriloquist, comedian, music group, etc.).  If you want your Fall Festival to be an outreach to your community, see that the Gospel is somehow presented in a non-preachy way and let everyone know they are always welcome at the church.  In fact, if multiple churches go in together and do a Fall Festival, it communicates to the community that the Church is unified (something that is usually not communicated well to the general public).

Jesse Joyner is a full-time family entertainer, using chainsaws and heads of lettuce to bring joy and laughter to audiences around the world.  Book him at 1-866-774-7469 or fill out this form.

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Dr. Jesse Joyner travels nationwide as a speaker and entertainer. His primary role is that of a performing juggler spreading joy and the love of learning to family and kids events. H earned his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their three kids - the perfect number for juggling children.

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