Trick-or-treating was a big part of the fall season when I was a kid but the annual Fun Festival at L.L. Brown Elementary School was a fall classic.
When I was trick-or-treat age we lived in the country and so that activity wasn’t as big for us as it was for city kids who had a neighborhood close at hand to hold up for candy. Back about four decades this part of the state was still pretty rural and the percentage of country kids to city kids was pretty high so I think that’s why a Fun Festival went over so big.
It was more of an indoor carnival than anything else with something fun to do for ages 2 to 92. Kids of all ages could go to the fish pond where a blackboard panel was decorated to look like a pond and a fishing pole with a clothespin on the end of the line was baited with the child’s age and everyone got a prize. Groucho glasses and mustache, wax lips, puzzles, tops, and paddle balls were among the prizes landed.
Bigger kids could try the ring toss or throw darts for prizes just like on the midway at the county fair carnival. The difference was none of the games were rigged and the price to play was less.
Before we started our parents would give us about five bucks or so to spend on tickets, with those tickets you could take part in any activity up and down the packed halls of the school. School-age kids were mostly left to their own devices, even though it was crowded there were no worries that we could be in any kind of danger. The worries, if their were any, were aimed at whether or not we would create our own trouble.
For the older set, even adults, there were cake walks with real cakes made in kitchens of the moms of the PTA, there was bingo with all kinds of prizes you could choose from. There was usually a skit featured in the multi-purpose room and refreshments of punch, cookies, candy and popcorn balls.
I recall there was usually a costume contest and a haunted house down at the far end of one hallway. One year my mom dressed up as a fortune-teller and wowed kids who didn’t recognize her with just how much she knew about what was happening in their world.
After we got older we had a chance to actually help out with putting on some of the activities at the festival. We were just having fun doing it and didn’t realize we were learning volunteerism.
It was a much simpler time when we all went home with a sack full of goodies and prizes and a head full of memories. Probably the school janitor was the only one who hated it.