How to Plan a Fall Festival

Little girl at fall festival.

The temperature is dropping, pumpkins are appearing at grocery stores, and Walgreens flu shot commercials are airing—Fall is here!

An event we hold at our church every October is Fall Festival. Planning meetings are starting up and we are beginning to line up the details for this event. Here are a few tips if you are thinking about having a Fall Festival:

1) Picking the Date: Do you want your festival to serve as an alternative for Halloween? Or do you simply want to provide families with something fun to do? Think through the best time to have your Fall Festival. We have found our attendance grew by having it the Wednesday night before Halloween, rather than on the weekend or the actual night of Halloween. This also allows us to have the participation of our regular Wednesday night attendees to help with the event, as well as ensuring our families can come since this night is usually dedicated to church events. Choose a night that will ensure you will have plenty of volunteers and that won’t interfere with the other fifteen festivals occurring in your area.

2) Choosing Activities: At our Fall Festival we have a number of activity booths available for preschool and elementary aged children. It is important to group the preschool and elementary booths separately. That way you don’t have your fourth graders running over your three year olds. We have age appropriate games at each booth. An example of a preschool booth is the Duck Pond. A small wading pool is filled with water and yellow rubber duckies are placed in the water. Preschoolers pick a duck and the number written on the bottom is the amount of candy they receive. One elementary booth we do is the Basketball Shoot. Set up a basketball goal and mark different lines children must shoot from. Children receive candy for each goal made. Last year at my church campus we had about five preschool booths and six elementary booths. In addition to the activities, we also provided face painting, hay rides, popcorn and cotton candy, as well as bouncies.

3) Embracing a Budget: Our Fall Festival is one of the most expensive events we do for our children. The price of the candy alone is expensive. If you are thinking about having your first Fall Festival, consider asking your congregation to donate candy. We did this for our first Easter Egg Hunt last April and the church donated about 70% of the candy we needed! Another way to save in the budget is to ask church members for the items you need for the booths. We have church members donate their basketball goals, tricycles, corn holes, and even some preschool games like a bean bag toss. If you don’t have the finances to rent a bouncy, consider contacting the company and asking if they will donate one if you advertise their services at the event. You may be surprised what people are willing to donate if you will simply let their name be publicized.

4) Considering Safety: During our Fall Festival, we make sure we have a lot of security present. This is a perfect event for the local pedafiles to notice and try to attend. If you have policemen in your congregation, ask them if they will attend the event and help provide security. Also, if you have limited parking, consider asking local businesses around your church if you can use their parking spaces that night. You will need police officers to direct traffic and keep everything flowing smoothly.

5) Getting Prospects: If you attend our Fall Festival, we ask you to fill out a registration form. As an incentive, we will have a giveaway. Giveaways will depend on your budget—Consider giving away bikes, a Wii, or gift cards. We ask families to provide us with their names, address, phone number, e-mail, and to check if they attend church anywhere and the name of the church. After the event, we go through the cards and sort them by our church members, those who are churched, and those who are unchurched and follow up with them accordingly. This is a great event to attract families in your area and get them interested in attending your church.

We want to hear your ideas! If your church has hosted a Fall Festival, please leave a comment to share your tips with other readers. You can also read about the Trunk or Treat events that many churches host.