By Curt Yeomans
Suder Elementary School officials, and the leaders of its Parent Teacher Association (PTA) weren't sure if the threat of rain would keep people away from their annual Fall Festival, but they decided the show must go on.
Students at the school had spent the week taking the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, and school leaders wanted the festival to be a reward for a week of hard thinking.
There was determination to hold the festival this year, because last year's festival was canceled because of poor weather.
As of 4 p.m., on Friday, an hour before the festival started, school administrators were hearing about the threat of a possible storm, so they decided to move the festival inside and crossed their fingers. They hoped people would still come.
By 7:30 p.m., 400 parents, students, and community members had come to the festival. The last time the school held a Fall Festival, in 2005, only 250, to 300 people showed up.
"This is one of the biggest Fall Festivals we've ever had," said Angela Johnson, president of Suder's PTA. "This has been a wonderful turnout. The weather had been a concern, but we were already packed at 5:15 p.m. We've got people in the hallways. People in the cafeteria. People in the gym. We've got people everywhere."
The festival gave visitors an opportunity to eat cotton candy, and play any of the 22 games at the festival, such as a basketball toss; a fishing game; putt-putt golf, and toss bean bags. Children also got to jump in a Moonwalk, and slide down a giant, inflatable slide. A clown was selling balloons. People got to do all of these activities by purchasing tickets, which cost 25 cents a-piece.
D.A. Pinkelman, the PTA's treasurer, had lost an exact count of how many tickets had been sold during the festival, but he knew the total was "however many tickets are in four rolls."
Markus Hubbard had already played the fishing game twice within the first 20 minutes of arriving at the festival. He got some stickers on his first trip to the "pond," but he caught a small green compass on his second try.
"I like the fishing game because I like to go fishing and catch fish," Hubbard said.
Some people decided to add something a little extra to the festival by dressing up in costumes. Margaret Parham, Suder's media specialist, walked around the festival dressed up as a bee and offered children an opportunity to play the "Mystery Prize Game." She wore an apron that said "Bee a reader," while wearing antennae.
"Everybody is just having fun," Parham said. "Our main thing is for the kids to have fun, as well as the parents and everyone from the surrounding neighborhoods."
Not everyone got to play the games, though. Kelvin Bailey was stuck holding the shoes belonging to his son, first-grader, Kamari, as the youngster played on the Moonwalk.
"It's sorta been hard to get him to do anything but this, and the slide," Kelvin Bailey said. "I think he wants to keep doing it, because he sees all the other kids doing it."