Fall festivals offer safe Halloween options

Hannah Grover
Isaac Foutz plays the bull's eye game on Oct. 29 at a Fall Festival at Grace Baptist Church in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — Thousands of San Juan County residents each year celebrate Halloween by attending fall festivals organized by local churches.

Many of the festivals offer safe alternatives to trick-or-treating, as well as games and concessions.

About 2,500 people attended Cross Roads Community Church's annual Fall Fest last year, and organizers expect similar numbers this year, said Shawn Lyle, the church's events coordinator. Many who attend live nearby and aren't church members, which provides an outreach opportunity, Lyle said.

"The main thing we do is an alternative trick or treating," Lyle said.

Church members park about 100 cars in the church lot, and children collect candy from car to car in what the church calls "trunk for treat," Lyle said. The event also provides games, face painting, bounce houses, a cake walk and concessions.

Aidan Dunning throws darts to pop candy-filled balloons on Oct. 29 during a Fall Festival at Grace Baptist Church in Farmington.

Bloomfield First Baptist Church also expects a large turnout at its fall festival, an event it has hosted for more than a decade.

"It just grows and grows every year," said Vickie Czlapinski, the church’s director of children’s ministry.

Like Cross Roads Community Church, the Bloomfield congregation will offer a variety of games for children of all ages, including "calf" roping and pumpkin bowling. And it also provides a chance to bring in community members to the church.

"We just want to engage with the community and get to know them," Czlapinski said.

Summit Church, a nondenominational Christian church in Farmington, also gears its event toward the community.

"It's just a time for us to get to know people," said Nicole Elder, the church administrator.

Families attend the Fall Fest in October 2013 at Cross Roads Community Church in Farmington.

Church members donate candy and volunteer to set up themed booths with games for children. A bounce house also attracts families to the carnival.

"I think it makes it a safe place for people to go," Elder said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

If you go

Cross Roads Community Church Fall Fest: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31 at 2400 N. Butler Ave. in Farmington. More info: 505-325-2600.

Bloomfield First Baptist Church Fall Fest: 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 31 at 200 W. Sycamore Ave. More info: 505-632-3335.

Summit Church Harvest Carnival: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 31 at 1200 E. 30th St. More info: 505-325-8525.

First Baptist Church of Aztec Fall Fest: 5:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31 at 700 Navajo Ave. More info: 505-334-6833.

Participants play bingo on Oct. 29 during the Fall Festival at Grace Baptist Church in Farmington.