OK, so I think I'm largely recovered from our fifth annual Harvest Festival. Usually on the Sunday after the event, I'm wiped out. But this time, I found myself less stressed in the week before, on the day of, and now the day after. Perhaps it was because we were more organized in most of the areas, had more volunteers in place, and we didn't encounter any major last-minute problems.
As best as we know, there were somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 people here on Saturday. Our parking crew counted somewhere between 800 and 900 cars (I haven't gotten a final figure yet), and I don't think many people arrived solo. Most of the vehicles had at least 2, 3 or 4 people in them. We know that we served around 2,000 hot dogs and 2,000 portions of nachos; people were asked to pick either a hot dog or nachos.
Seeing the smile on the face of a kid is awesome, and we saw hundreds of those smiles Saturday. We don't charge for any of the pumpkins, or foor, or games, or crafts, or facepainting, or bounce houses, or entertainment. We just want to be a blessing to our community, and I think we accomplished that once again this year. It's awesome to hear and see the amazement of the guests when they realize we aren't charging them for any of this stuff.
Our volunteers are they key to the success of the festival each year. The youth ministry runs the carnival games, and for much of the day, I had more volunteers than actual places for them to work! That has NEVER happened on this scale before. We were a little shorthanded in our parking crew, with the crafts tables, and at the bounce houses, but other volunteers came through and carried the ball for us.
Could the weather have been any better? Probably not. Sunny skies. Highs in the 70s. A breeze at times. No smoke in the air from foothill fires. No risk of rain. No chill. No 100-degree record-setting temps. We've had those challenges in recent years. But 2006 will go down as the perfect weather year.
One of our TV stations came out and did a live remote around 9:50AM. I had several people -- both among our volunteers and among the guests -- say that they saw me on TV. That's always a weird feeling. I've given TV interviews before, but this is the first time I was on LIVE television. I could have said ANYTHING and it would have been broadcast right at that moment. Scary! The clip is online; check it out.
So, overall, this ranks up there as probably the best or tied for the best Harvest Festival I've been part of here at Antelope. We've done it five times; I wasn't on staff yet for the first event.
Let's do a quick score card of whether the event was a success:
VOLUNTEER NUMBERS: A-
VOLUNTEER ENTHUSIASM: A
NEW VOLUNTEER INVOLVEMENT: B
We had some newer people involved, but many new families chose to just attend. We'll work on them for next year!
SIZE OF CROWD: B+
I'm not complaining about the size at all. One year we had at least 7,000+ so I guess that remains my standard for crowd size.
CROWD ATMOSPHERE: A-
CARNIVAL GAMES: A-
PUMPKIN PATCH: A
FAMILY PHOTOS: B+
This was a new event for us. We took families' photos, and we'll now send them a copy of the photo, along with information about the church, if they're looking for a church home. We felt it was a low-key, non-intrusive way to gather some data for follow-up without feeling like a bait-and-switch. We needed more volunteers in this area, and we need to work out some kinks in the process, but good job for a first round, and we had more than 260 families get their photo taken!
BOUNCE HOUSES: A-
MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT: B+
Bands did a great job. Only reason for the lower grade is because I forgot to make sure we had bought watermelons for our watermelon eating contest. Oops!
FOOD AND BEVERAGES: A
SET-UP CREW: A-
CLEAN-UP CREW: A+
The event ended at 4PM. I was the last person to leave the church campus; I left at 6PM. Enough said.
SUNDAY MORNING ENTHUSIASM: A
SUNDAY MORNING NUMBERS: A
We had strong numbers in both of our AM services today. That's a contrast from other years, when we actually see a DROP on the day after because everyone's so tired. In fact, our 11AM service had a larger crowd than we've seen in several weeks!
So, based on all those criteria, I'd say we did a great job on Saturday. The team did well, people were blessed, our volunteers were engaged, and the bar keeps getting raised higher and higher!