ELIZABETHTOWN — Jones Lake State Park sits tranquilly, enticing folks to stop, get out of their car and take a walk around or enter the visitors center for a quick lesson on some of nature’s animals and the flora and fauna that make up the park.
On Saturday, the park will be teeming with life of a different sort— ghosts and goblins, games and prizes and much more.
Park Superintendent Shane Freeman said folks are invited to come out to the park and enjoy the Fall Festival, which will take place from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
“We are hoping to make this an annual event. We’ve been doing our Easter Egg hunt for about five years now and its been successful. We weren’t really doing anything big for fall,” said Freeman.
He said the idea came out of the Friends of the Bay Lakes group.
Park Administrative Assistant Carolyn Cain said there will be 13 different games. One game that is sure to be big hit with folks is the T-shirt race. Cain said there will be eight contestants per game and the park staff will fill a set of canoes with water. Each contestant will have to run to their assigned canoe, take a T-shirt, dunk it in the water in the canoe and soak up as much water as possible. Then the contestant will take their T-shirt, run back to their starting spot, and wring the water out into a jar. The contestant who fills their jar first, wins.
“Kids are running around laughing and having a good time,” said Cain of the game.
She said the park used the game during the Easter Egg hunt and it was a fast favorite.
Other planned games planned include Corn Hole Toss, Pumpkin Ring Toss, Witch Hat Ring Toss, Football Toss, Hay Stack Search, go fishing, Kiddy Cup Smackdown, Pumpkin bowling, Apple Tic-Tac-Toe, Bucket Ball, Can Knock Down, Witches Brew and a Cake Walk.
Cain said the hay stack search is always interesting.
“Volunteers hide things underneath the straw and the kids are given 5 minutes to go and search the hay,” said Cain.
Freeman said when a child wins a game, they will receive either one or two tokens and they can cash their tokens in at any time during the day for a prize.
There will also be a Halloween costume contest beginning at 1 p.m. with trophies given for first place, and ribbons for second and third place. Freeman added adults are welcome to dress up along with their children.
A hay ride through the park is also planned.
“The hay ride will travel down one of the parks access roads,” said Freeman.
He added there will also be ranger lead hikes every 30 minutes and educational information and displays featuring plants and animals native to the park.
Another unique event will be a straw painting station. Freeman said two of the members of the Friends of Bay Lakes group will bring paint and get pine needles and tie them together into a bunch. The children can use them to paint pictures.
Freeman said Smokey the Bear and Les Litter will also put in appearances to the delight of the children.
There will also be food and drinks available for purchase.
“A lot of the picnic area will be available that day,” said Freeman.
The Fall Festival takes place, rain or shine. Freeman asks that folks pre-register their children to ensure there are enough prizes. For questions or to pre-register a child, call 910-588-4550.
Erin Smith can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.