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Week in Miss-Lou filled with Halloween, fall festival events

NATCHEZ — Locals in the Miss-Lou better have their costumes and candy bags ready because Halloween is Wednesday.

The official hours for Natchez trick-or-treating are 5:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, officials said, and local businesses are decorating their storefronts for “Trick-or-Treat for Little Feet” in the garden district. Meanwhile, area churches in the neighboring communities also are individually organizing their own special Halloween and fall festivities. Here are some of the festivals happening in the Miss-Lou.

Sunday

First Church of Natchez is hosting its Friends and Family Day and Fall Festival starting with a special service at 10 a.m. today. At 5 p.m., the church will have its annual fall festival, complete with a cakewalk, trunk-or-treat, games, food and a hayride if weather permits, said church pastor, the Rev. James Johnson.

Food and cakewalk tickets and children’s armbands for other activities are $1 each, and all proceeds go to Sunday morning ministries.

“Sunday morning, we have recording artist Bryan Adkins from North Carolina singing and playing various instruments,” Johnson said. “We’ll be having a big concert and he will be ministering to attendees with his songs and words during that service.”

Johnson said church has hosted a fall festival each year for at least 15 years running, simply because it makes children happy and helps the church grow their children’s ministry for every other Sunday in the year.

“It’s all for the kids,” Johnson said. “We do it not only for our church members, but all of the kids in the community. … It also helps our Sunday school department, so it all goes back to the children.”

Johnson said the festival shows children in the community that it’s OK to have fun and go to church, too.

“It brings them a lot of joy and happiness and it connects them to the church in a way,” he said. “They understand Christianity is not just about teaching, but you can also have fun. … Some families who aren’t connected to a church — this could be a good way of connecting them. Everyone is welcome.”

As a special treat, Johnson said he would smash a pie in his face if the number of guests exceeds 300, so members of his congregation have eagerly extended invitations in their community.

“I hope I get a pie in my face,” Johnson said.

Wednesday is Halloween

First Baptist Church in Vidalia is hosting its annual Trunk or Treat 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Halloween The event usually attracts between 1,200 and 1,500 visitors to the church with 400 regular members, said financial secretary Mitzy Roby.

Attendees can stuff their bellies with mountains of candy, cake, popcorn, cotton candy and pet the animals in the “Flock of Faith” petting zoo, Roby said.

“It’s a safe environment,” Roby said, “We have about 40 to 60 members who volunteer, dress up and decorate their cars. We also have a photo booth, cakewalk and games. It’s a small fall festival, but every year it gets a little bigger.”

Parkway Baptist Church is hosting its annual fall festival 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, as the church has for more than a decade, said Pat Huff, the financial and educational secretary.

“It has been going on since I’ve been here,” Huff said. “This year, we have games, bounce houses, a mobile pet clinic, a dunking booth and all kinds of food.”

Huff said kids get hyped on more than just candy but also with popcorn, hotdogs, cotton candy and drinks.

“Last year, it seems like we’ve had between 500 and 600 people show up,” Huff said. “There is no charge to attend. … The festival is a way for us to reach out to the community, meet new people, invite them to our church or encourage them to go to a church. … It’s also our way of just showing God’s love.”

Community Chapel Church of God on Morgantown Road is hosting their annual Fall Festival from 6 to 9 p.m. on Halloween night, said Robert Wallis, the associate youth pastor.

“We’ll have a cakewalk, jumpers, a silent auction, concession stand, booths and games,” Wallis said. “The cost is $2 at the door and will support the youth ministry with help funding outreach, camps and mission trips.”

Wallis said church festivals are a great trade-off with door-to-door trick or treating, because kids can stay in on secure location and have fun while still loading up on candy.

“It’s a good alternative to Halloween (trick-or-treating) in a fun and safe environment for kids with more candy than they can carry,” he said. “We have people who come back for the festival every year.”

While the kids play, their parents can contribute to the church and youth group by participating in a silent auction, which features various donated items, Wallis said — anything from hunting accessories, jewelry, traditional yard sale items to baked goods.

“We’re excited about this opportunity and are looking forward to a fun time,” Wallis said.

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