Annual Fall Festival – Ward Party idea

This is a BIG missionary tool, we have done it for years and tons nonmembers come.

We have always held this event the Saturday before Halloween, but let me say, this does not have to be a Halloween Event, I know some really do not like the whole “Halloween” thing, although kids love to dress up and even some adults do so this even can totally be help after Halloween.

We always have a canned food drive, we just ask everyone to bring a can of food to donated. We have a wheel barrel set up for people to put their cans in, it is always over following!


  • I have done this event in two different wards, (lived in the same place a long time) First couple of years we did it in the church parking lot as well as inside, but mostly outside. In the second ward, we have held it at someones farm out in the dirt, otherwise in families backyard that are LARGE.


  • We hold ours in the evening, we start at like 5:30 (since we serve dinner) and we are done by 7:30-8:00…. its a Saturday night we need to get our kids cleaned up and ready for bed, since the next day is Sunday.


We have families bring Chili, cornbread or bread sticks and hot dogs in buns (cooked and wrapped)

  • Chili
    • We also offer sour cream, and shredded cheese for the chili.
  • Hot Dogs
    • Don’t forget you need Ketchup and mustard for the Hot dogs.
  • Cornbread / Bread sticks
  • Scones / Fry bread
    • For the past 4 or so years, we have started a tradition of cooking up scones / fry bread, people love that.
    • How did I (and do they still) make that many scones? I use Rhode Dough, you can use any frozen white bread, roll dough you want, if you want to make your down dough go for it. But I decided it was not worth it. I can buy a bag of 72 Rhodes Rolls at Wal-Mart for about $7.50 a bag, I would get those big trays from the church (clean them) put wax paper down spray it and set the frozen rolls out in the afternoon to rise. How many to do depends on how big your ward is. I usually do about 5 bags. I then have 2 large fry pans heated with oil that evening and have my husband (men love to do this kind of stuff) cooking away. You just take a roll (once is has rising) and stretch it out a bit) and fry it up. We don’t do butter, that is to costly, we just have honey. Btu you could also always have cinnamon sugar and powdered sugar.
      • Some do’s and don’t about frying:
        • Wear an apron
        • If you are going to cook on someones patio, have paper or cardboard under you, you will make a mess.
        • I like to use large jelly roll tape pans lined with paper towel to put the scones on when you take them out of the oil.
        • Have a roll or two of paper towel, for messes and to change the paper on the trays.
        • You need a lot of room, since you have the large trays with the dough on them, then you need a table for the fry pans, and one to put the one’s right out of the pan on to, and one for people to serve them self form.
        • We actual cook in a large cast iron pan, and ise a camping stove, it gets hot adn cooks fast.
  • Lemonade / Water / Homemade Root Beer


  • Booths
    • Our first year we had built wooden booths, we also used them for our Night in Bethlehem, I bet we got a good 8 years out of them, now someone has put together some using conduit and re-bar, no slivers, easier to store, and they will last a lot longer then wood, wood had a nice look, and you really can’t use the conduit one for a Night in Bethlehem.
    • We have all the organization in the ward do a booth, all the youth groups (Beehives- Priests), RS, High Priests, Elders, Primary, Ward Missionary’s etc We have even had the local missionaries do a booth, we had it ready to work in with everything done, it was a great way for them to get face to face with everyone and the people who are not of or religion.
    • Prizes: it has been done a few different ways, have everyone provide their own prizes, which can be a piece of candy or small toy from somewhere like Oriental Trading Catalog.
    • We supply Trick or Treat bags, which we buy at Oriental Catalog for the kids to use to hold their prizes in. You could just reuse grocery bags. or brown paper lunch bags.
    • Booths that we have had:
      • Fishing Pond (of course)
      • Cup Cake Walk
      • Face Painting
      • Soda Pop ring Toss (pop seating on table, try to “ring” a soda
      • Basketball Toss
      • Golf putt
      • Haunted House (we have use the garage of the peoples house we are at)
      • Priest Bop: This was so funny, the priest took a sheet of plywood, cut round holes in it, they had the priest get underneath it, and pop up randomly, well the player tries to hit them with a sponge bat, or something soft. It was FUNNY!!!
      • Here is a list of different booth ideas (carnival games) I have collected
  • Entertainment

    • We don’t really do entertainment, there seems to be enough to do with out doing much, BUT the first time I helped with a Fall Festival we had it at a church and we had everyone start in the cultural hall, we welcomed everyone (people were in costume) and she was giving everyone directions on the evening, I don’t remember what was said, but we had three ladies it the ward (ok so I was one of them) dress up to look like the witches from the movie Hocus Pocus, and we started in the back of the GYM and walked to the front (the witches in the movies walka cetain way) and then on to the stage and then preformed “I Put a Spell On You” (see it below) everyone seemed to love it, it was just a great way to start out the evening.
    • We have added a man in our ward whodoes firedancing, that is a big hit.
  • Bouncer

    • We have just once bouncer at the event, it is a favorite, to just add to the fun! Make sure you put someone in charge of this event, there should be an adult over seeing it at all times.
  • Hay Ride

    • We have done this a few times, the only bad things is the kids are WILD and we have had some jump off the ride run and try to jump on etc. So you need to have CONTROL
  • Costume Parade

    • If you have people wear costumes, you can have all those in costume, line up and wonder through the crowed so everyone can see everyone, you can give awards for the best costume, most original, funniest etc.
  • Chili Cook off

    • Pick a few people to judge (or have the Bishopric) taste all the pots of chili people bring and give awards for , best taste, hottest etc.
  • Decorations

    • We drape min lights on the walls or fences, on the booths, we have used white lights, a few years back I bought orange and purple lights, they are so cheap and were just the right color.
    • We ask everyone to decorate there own booth.
    • Beside the Photo Booth and a greeter ares (pick up bags and drop off canned food) the only other ares would be food tables and table to eat from.
    • Eating tables, we have a lot of people who have those plastic picnic tables that fold up that bring them over so we set those up as well as set bails of hay around for people to sit on.
    • Plastic table clothes are great it makes for faster clean up and adds color.
    • You could get people to bring their carved pumpkins for centerpieces. But just know they might get touched a little!
  • Picture Booth

    • We always have an area set up, usually against a wall, we use bails of hay for the backdrop as well as giving places for people to sit, we have use pumpkins and scar cows to also decorate the area. On the wall we we cut out letters and tape them up and the say, Cornerstone (WARD NAME) FALL FESTIVAL 2009 (year) so when families look back at the picture they know when it is.
    • We then have the pictures printed and I have taped them (using blue’s painter tape) to a wall at church for people to take theirs.
  • Other things

    • If you are at someones house, make sure you have plenty of garbage cans and trash bags
    • Lights!! Don’t forget lights
    • Music, it is fun to have a DJ, sound system, music is a must, there is a ton of fun music for events like this.
    • Have people set up early in the day, so it is done with plenty of time, have a clean up crew, even though I think most wards are great about everyone helping.