1. It’s more than a fall festival
Cindy Simpson has been orchestrating the Huntersville United Methodist Church Fall Community Extravaganza for five years. During that time the 18-year-old event has expanded to include a variety of offerings. This year’s festivities include bounce houses, touch-a-trucks, trick-or-treating, hayrides and other events. A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department helicopter is scheduled to land around noon, depending on weather and if there are no pressing emergencies. Entrance into the festival is free as is trick-or-treating; however, youth need a $10 wristband to participate in many of the other activities. There is also a bake sale with homemade items, plus barbecue, hotdogs and hamburgers. A local radio station will provide music along with the HUMC praise band, which is slated to perform around 12:30 p.m.
2. The event raises money for missions
Funds raised during the event go to the church’s missions, and this is the largest fundraiser and event for the church. It typically brings in $20,000 to $25,000, Simpson said. Among the missions are Not Here Ministries, which offers food for homeless men and women in Charlotte; Mothers of Preschoolers; Room in the Inn, where homeless people are given food and shelter during the winter months; helping families in emergency situations; scholarships; and Nifty Needles, which provides blankets for babies who are stillborn; among other missions and outreach opportunities by the church.
3. There’s a silent auction, plus vendors
One of the biggest aspects of the event is the silent auction. Simpson said it’s set up inside the church and includes gift cards, vacation spots, Panthers tickets, pet boarding, supplies, bikes, wreaths, fire pits, gift baskets and a variety of other items. The HUMC congregation was challenged to donate items to the auction. It takes place 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. While people don’t have to be there at the end, it is preferred that they are to pick their winning item up right away. Also at the event are more than 40 vendors, offering jewelry, wreaths and other arts and crafts.
4. People can check out others’ cars
People can bring their vehicle to participate in a car show during the event. Simpson said the show usually has 25-30 participants. Mona Kita, a member of the church, makes unique awards made of tree parts and metal that are given out. Judges pick the winners from various categories, including Best Ford, Best Rat Rod, Best New Car, Best Chevrolet, Best Mopar, Best Import, People’s Choice and Pastor’s Choice. “Anybody who thinks they have a show car” can participate, Simpson said. The entry fee is $20, and car owners can register day-of starting at 8 a.m. Judging begins at 10 a.m. with awards at 1 p.m. All car and truck show participants get a free lunch.
5. It brings the community together
Simpson said the mission of the church, as challenged by Pastor Paul Thompson, has been to create an authentic Christian community, and the fall community extravaganza is aimed to do just that. While it’s a big fundraiser, she said, it’s really about building community. And in some cases, people visiting the church for the event have decided to come to one of the services and wind up joining. Last year, Simpson said, between 800 and 1,000 people walked through the event’s doors. It celebrates the cooler weather and provides family entertainment during a time fewer people are on vacation. “Everyone loves the fall,” Simpson said, adding, it’s a way to have fun and relax.