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Alternative fall festival sponsored today by Westside Baptist Church
Alternative fall festival sponsored today by Westside Baptist Church

Rylan Acheson, 5, and Aubrey, 3, exit a fire truck themed bounce house at Westside Baptist Church.
WAYNESVILLE, Mo. (Oct. 31, 2009) — Pixies, astronauts, police, and cheerleader costumes are plentiful today at Westside Baptist Church’s alternative fall festival, but according to children’s pastor Chris Johnson, scary costumes are discouraged.

“We don’t focus on costumes here, but we don’t discourage them either,” Johnson said. “We mostly want to provide a fun place.”

As of 4:45 p.m., Johnson said 50 families with an estimated 150 to 200 children had already come to his church’s event, which will run until 8 p.m. Families who bring their children register and receive a wristband indicating the age of their children; children then go to various carnival games and try their hand at winning various prizes, standing at different distances from their targets depending on their age.

Children get one ticket for going to each carnival game, and if they win the game, they receive additional tickets that can be turned in for candy or other prizes. About 30 carnival games are available, Johnson said, all staffed by church volunteers.

Johnson said Westside Baptist Church sponsors the event as a safe place where children can spend the evening, but it’s fun with a purpose.

“Obviously we are a church so we want people to feel comfortable coming to a church,” Johnson said. “A lot of it is outreach to our community, giving them something to do, and fortunately our church building is large enough that we can have everything inside and not need to worry about the weather.”

Volunteers for tonight’s event include Rachelle Acheson, whose family is from Texas and stationed at Fort Leonard Wood. Acheson said her family began attending Westside Baptist Church two years ago.

“They preach the Word of God here,” Acheson said.

“And the music rocks,” added her son, Aedan Acheson.

Acheson said she and her family have been involved not only in tonight’s activities but also other youth outreach events of her church.

“I think this is a good church, and I like how this gives kids a fun place to be,” she said.

The main events at Westside Baptist Church are free of charge, but concessions are available at minimal cost. A hot dog plate with a soda and chips costs $2.

“We make a little bit of money to help pay our expenses, but any profit will go back into putting the event on next year,” Johnson said.

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