The Sun News

Thousands attend church’s fall festival

Darren Layfield, music teacher at Quail Run Elementary School, leads the chorus in a music performance at Sacred Heart Catholic Church’s 59th Fall Festival on Saturday.
Darren Layfield, music teacher at Quail Run Elementary School, leads the chorus in a music performance at Sacred Heart Catholic Church’s 59th Fall Festival on Saturday. Special to The Sun News

About 10,000 to 12,000 people attended Sacred Heart Catholic Church’s 59th annual Fall Festival on Saturday and enjoyed food, rides, music, shopping and much more.

Ninety groups with more than 2,250 performers entertained on the three professional stages that were set up throughout the festival, said Bridgette M. Cooper, festival chairwoman. The entertainers consisted mostly of children, ages 4 through high school, but there were some adult groups as well. School choirs, bands, cheerleaders, dance teams, gymnastics groups and dance troupes were among the many performances throughout the day.

“I heard a lot of people talk about how good the performances were and how talented the kids were,” Cooper said. “There were some phenomenal performances … simply amazing.”

Darren Layfield, music teacher/chorus teacher for Quail Run Elementary School, whose chorus group performed early in the day, said that the festival is a great place for performing groups because the kids can perform and then have fun afterward with the rides and inflatables. He has been bringing his chorus groups to perform at the festivals for the past six years.

“The audience is always very receptive and very positive ... and it is always a well-run festival,” he said.

Cooper said the performers were basically from Middle Georgia with an emphasis on Warner Robins, Perry, and Bibb and Peach counties.

Jennifer Heide of Byron brought her 9-year-old daughter to the festival because her dance team at Eagles Springs Elementary was performing.

“I think it’s great to get to see families in the community connect and fellowship,” she said. “It’s a great fundraiser to help with the community and the church.”

More than 4,000 armbands for children were sold throughout the day, and the armbands gave the children access to zip-lining, inflatables, 25 rides, a mechanical dog ride, a rock wall, a jump-off cliff and more. In addition, carnival games, more than 80 arts and crafts vendors, a petting zoo, pony rides, Bingo, Warner Robins Police Department demonstrations and a variety of food trucks were set up across the three acres that encompass the church and school grounds at 250 South Davis Drive, Cooper said.

Warner Robins High School senior and Kappa Alpha Zeta sorority member Johnny Bridges of Warner Robins volunteered his time working with kids in the inflatables and helping set up.

“It’s good seeing everyone have a great time ... and all the smiles,” he said.

A rummage sale, which took place from Friday through Sunday morning, was housed in two buildings and consisted of items that had been collected throughout the year, Cooper said. About 200 volunteers helped staff the festival. A silent auction for a variety of items, including several different trips, was also a success.

“Some of the trips went for over $2,000,” Cooper said.

Jennah White of Kathleen said she has been attending the festival for the past eight or nine years and loves to shop for books for her nieces and nephews for Christmas. She said she enjoys the food at the festival and the opportunity to see people in the community she doesn’t often get to see.

Warner Robins Police Department Officers Greg Martin and Josh Wilcox gave out safety information and fingerprinted children.

When something happens to a child, a parent is very upset, Wilcox said. The parents can use the printout with their child’s information and fingerprints on it and give it to the police to start the reporting process.

“It makes a stressful situation easier for everybody,” he said.

Michelle Willis of Warner Robins attended the festival with her grandson Treyson Straham, 5, who was dressed as Darth Vader. She said they were going to several different festivals throughout the day. She said Treyson enjoyed the dancing and the live animals.

About a third of the proceeds raised from the festival is used to perpetuate the music festival every year, and the remaining two-thirds, Cooper said, goes toward school scholarships for Sacred Heart Catholic School.

“My guess is it is was one of the best (festivals),” Cooper said. “I know we have (had) around 10,000 to 12,000 before, but it is up there with one of the best … and the weather helps. We had really good weather.”