Great Pumpkin Festival a success on rain date

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Mon., Oct. 3, 2011
Cody, 2, picks out the perfect pumpkin from the 'pumpkin patch' at New Life Asembly's Great Pumpkin Festival. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Cody, 2, picks out the perfect pumpkin from the 'pumpkin patch' at New Life Asembly's Great Pumpkin Festival. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

The rain date for last weekend’s Great Pumpkin Festival at New Life Assembly in Pachaug almost had the ring of irony. Threatening skies on Saturday, Oct. 1, led church leaders to post signs at the church announcing that the event was postponed for a day. But, as intercessory prayer leader Stacey Ward observed, “It didn’t rain a lick” on Saturday.

By Sunday morning, it looked like the wrong call had been made. Showers prevailed and church members struggled to set up tents amid intermittent early-morning downpours. Miraculously, however, the clouds parted just in time for the 11 a.m. start-up, and festival-goers began streaming in. “Sometime you’ve just got to trust the Lord,” said Ward.

Church members were prepared for a goodly crowd, as the festival’s attendance has increased every year since it started in 2008, Ward said. “We set up this year for 800-plus people,” he said. “Last year we set up for 600 and we had to make a couple of extra runs.” Visitors have turned up from as far away as Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Long Island, he said.

The free fair featured pony rides, face-painting, balloon animals, and kid-friendly games. In keeping with the Charlie Brown theme, the cartoon character and his dog, Snoopy, were on hand for photos. Each family attending could choose a pumpkin to take home, and burgers and hot dogs were free for all.

Besides the purely secular activities, church members staffed a tent with information about the church community and offered the services of the church’s “prayer team” on the spot for the intentions of visitors. Still, said Ward, the event wasn’t aimed at enlisting new members. “We’re not trying to get people to come to our church,” he said. “There’s no underlying thing except to help people feel the love of God the way we feel it.

“It’s a free community day,” Ward said. “There’s no strings attached, no money attached. All we’re looking to do is bless the community the way the Lord has blessed us.”


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