By Clay Wilson
There may be many scary things lurking in Clayton and Henry counties between now and Halloween, but the specter of boredom shouldn't be one of them.
Area churches, schools and civic associations have scheduled a plethora of festivals, carnivals and trick-or-treating events for the next two weekends.
"We have so much stuff going on out here today," said Hampton resident Eulene Smith on Friday as she juggled directing Hampton Fall Festival volunteers, dodging Hampton Elementary students at recess and granting a cell phone interview.
Smith was one of about half a dozen volunteers setting up for the seventh annual Fall Festival, scheduled for Saturday in Hampton City Park. The event is sponsored by the HBMA, as it has been for the past six years of existence (it started out as a city-sponsored Founder's Day, according to Smith).
Smith said that based on previous years' attendance, she expects thousands of visitors to this year's event. And while the HBMA plans to hold next year's festival in September to avoid conflict with the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Smith said she thinks the extra race traffic may bring more people to the festival.
"It seems to me there's been more (traffic) this year than ever, and I think it's because (the weather is) so pretty," she said.
The Fall Festival will kick off at 9:30 a.m. with a parade that will begin in the city park. The parade, which will include 54 participants, will be grand-marshaled by Gold-level Girl Scout Raeda Anderson and AMS Legends racer Chris Dilbeck, both Hampton Elementary alums.
The festival, which will run through 5 p.m., will have 95 vendors with arts and crafts, food, games, singing, clogging, a Cadillac show and more. Among the amusements will be pony rides, a miniature train for children and a rock-climbing wall.
Admission to the festival is free, but there may be charges for the various amusements. The HBMA will use the proceeds for various projects to benefit the community.
About every two hours, festival organizers will throw candy from the stage.
"They come running," said Smith referring, she said, to both adults and children.
Candy will also hold a special allure six days later on Halloween, according to Tim Munoz, pre-school minister at Jonesboro First Baptist Church.
"A child's goal on Halloween is to get as much candy as he can," he said.
For that reason, for the past eight years the church has held its own fall festival, a trick-or-treating alternative.
"We know that children are going to go trick-or treating, but this provides a safer environment," Munoz said.
The event, which will run from 6 to 8 p.m. October 31 at Jonesboro FBC's Recreational Outdoor Center, will include a 22-foot slide, various games and "trunk or treat" the trunks of church members' cars filled with candy for participants.
The festival is free, Munoz said, except for $1 food plates.
According to Munoz, the festival is an opportunity for the church to reach out to the community.
"The main thing is for us to provide something to the community that says, ?We're here, and we care about you,'" he said.
Following is a list of Halloween and fall-related activities in Clayton and Henry counties over the next week.
* Corinth Baptist Church will host Judgment House, a realistic walk-through drama about heaven and hell from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Children must be at least 10 years old. Donations are $2. For more information, call (770) 461-4456.
* The Riverdale Police Department and Sparkles Roller Rink will host a "Safe Night" from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Oct. 31. Parents can leave their children at the rink, where they will be locked in under the supervision of Riverdale police officers while they enjoy skating, treats, prizes and food. Only children under 15 will be allowed. For more information, call (770) 997-6363.
* Ola Elementary School is holding a Fall Festival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. The event will feature games, food, drawings and several booths.
* Green Valley Villages subdivision will be the locale for Halloween carnival 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today. The event features a cake walk, moon walk, fishing game, Halloween costume contest and more.
* The Hampton Business and Merchants Association is sponsoring the annual Hampton Fall Festival Saturday. The festivities begin at 9:30 a.m. with a parade originating in Hampton City Park, then continue at the park through 5 p.m. The event will include arts and crafts, food, entertainment and various amusements. Admission is free, but individual vendors may charge for activities.
My Child's Place Learning Center will host a Harvest Celebration from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today. The event offers health screening, activities, moon walk, face painting and popcorn. For more information, call director Sherry Messer at (770) 474-2400.
* The first Haunted Halloween Festival sponsored by the Locust Grove Day committee will feature a hay ride, food, fun and frights on Friday and Saturday, and again on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at the Locust Grove Municipal Complex. For more information, call Locust Grove City Hall at (770) 957-5043.
* The McDonough Junior Women's Club will hold its annual Kids Fest on Oct. 31 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. McDonough Square. For a small fee, children can play a variety of games and receive prizes. Refreshments including hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn and drinks will be available for purchase. For more information, call Kendra Tomlinson at (404) 569-8728.
* The Henry County Parks and Recreation Department will be holding its annual Halloween Havoc at Heritage Park on Oct. 31. Games start at 7:30 p.m. This will be a 10-team tournament. Teams that dress for Halloween will start the game with a three-run lead if the other team is not in Halloween attire. There will be candy for the kids. For more information, call the Henry County Recreation Department at (770) 954-2031.
* Noah's Ark will host Two by Two, Trick or Treat with the Animals from 5 to 10 p.m. Oct. 31. Cost is $5 per person, and free for children ages 2 and under. Participants are invited to come dressed as their favorite animal. Several activities are scheduled. For more information, call Angie Hedgecoth at (770) 957-0888, ext. 20.
* Peachtree Peddlers is hosting the ninth annual Trail of Trick or Treats from noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 1. Cash prizes will be awarded to the most original costumes. Other activities include pumpkin painting, coloring, face painting and more. For more information, call (770) 914-2269.