You may want to mark Sept. 15 on your calendar if you like:
Barbecue, music and pumpkins.
Hayrack rides, quilts and laser tag.
Pedal karts, auctions and a corn maze.
All such things will be part of the Annual Fall Festival and BBQ when Camp Fontanelle celebrates its 60th anniversary.
The public is invited to the fundraiser, which includes the groundbreaking for a new retreat center. The day begins with a worship service at 11 a.m., at the camp, 9677 County Road 3, Fontanelle.
A plethora of activities will follow.
“It’s a celebration of our summer camping and an opportunity for people to come and enjoy themselves with food, fellowship and fun,” said Trent Meyer, site director.
The Rev. Lyle Schoen, a retired minister, will share the message for the morning worship service in the 40-by-80-foot tent next to the lodge. Schoen’s father, Ken, was one of the original camp founders and it’s anticipated that he will attend as well.
Immediately after the morning worship service, attendees are invited to the groundbreaking for the camp’s new retreat center.
The 14,000-square-foot building will be constructed just 200 feet northeast of the existing lodge. The facility will have 72 beds and a conference area and residential kitchen, both upstairs and downstairs.
Offices will move there from the existing building, Meyer said.
The public is invited to the groundbreaking.
After the ceremony, shovels will be available so guests can turn over a little dirt throughout the day to symbolically be part of the groundbreaking.
The annual barbecue runs from noon to 3 p.m. with a suggested freewill donation of $10 per person. The meal includes barbecued pork and grilled chicken, sides and a beverage.
A silent auction will start at noon and end at 1:45 p.m. The quilt auction begins at 2 p.m. and concludes at about 4 p.m., under the tent.
Sheltered Reality, a drum band, will play from 12:15-2 p.m. by the lodge.
The nine-acre corn maze — one of the camp’s main fall attractions — opens at 1 p.m.
This year, the maze is designed in honor of first-responders who have worked tirelessly to help those affected by historic flooding. The 2019 maze is titled, #NebraskaStrong.
Guests also will be able to the camp’s pumpkin patch, which consists of about three acres.
“They’re looking really good this year,” Meyer said of the pumpkins.
Attendees may obtain pumpkins, gourds and Indian corn for a donation.
The event also will include a GaGa Ball Tournament for teams of 10 to 12 members each. The suggested freewill donation is $100 per team. The event will be a double-elimination tournament with a trophy.
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Anyone is welcome to enter as a team. Teams may consist of adults, youth, kids and/or families. Participants may register online at https://www.campfontanelle.com/events/gaga-ball-tournament.html
New this year are the 15 pedal karts. Guests of various ages can ride the pedal karts on a track. Meyer said the karts have extension seats so adults can ride one with a toddler. Tricycles are available for little children.
Also new are the Roller Racers, which involve running inside tubes on a track.
“You can have a race with somebody as you’re rolling in a culvert tube,” Meyer said.
Meyer compares racers to a hamster on a wheel — except the tube is going somewhere.
The camp also has a new jumping pillow this year for folks from ages 2 to about 80.
As in past years, the camp will have a zipline, tree climbing on a rope, hayrack rides and laser tag in the cornfield.
Guests may want to stop by the petting barn, which will include goats, sheep, a miniature donkey, a llama, rabbits, chickens and potbellied pigs.
Peacocks, parakeets, bearded dragons, a hedgehog and a chameleon also can be seen at the camp.
Meyer said anybody who’s ever attended Camp Fontanelle is asked to come to the barbecue, adding that there will be reunions by the decades for campers.
He said local resident Priscilla Wilson was in one of the first classes of campers in 1959, when her dad, the late Rev. Graydon Wilson was a pastor.
Meyer noted that Micheal Dwyer Photography will be at the event taking photos for the reunions by the decades and for individuals as well.
At 4:30 p.m., the Rev. Bill Ritter, who just retired as the district superintendent for the Blue River and Elkhorn Valley districts of the United Methodist Great Plains Conference, will share a message at a worship service.
The Camp Fontanelle Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze officially opens on Sept. 15 and closes on Oct. 27. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and 1-6 p.m. Sundays.
Camp Fontanelle was created in 1959 by the United Methodist Church with the main mission of impacting lives through intentional Christian community through summer camping programs.
Faith-based summer camps are available from Memorial Day through mid-August, the camp’s website states.
There are residential camps for ages 4-18 with preschool through second-graders attending with a trusted adult.
“We are a faith-based camp and we like to share the stories of kids making a decision to follow Christ,” Meyer said.
Meyer noted that 659 kids attended camp during the summer of 2019. Of those, 56 made a first-time decision to follow Christ and 193 said they rededicated their lives to following Jesus.
Campers don’t have to be attendees of the United Methodist Church.
The camp has 183 acres of trails and nature. It serves adults and children through its programming and is available for other groups and events during the remainder of the months. The corn maze and pumpkin patch are fundraising mechanisms that help support the camp.
More information is available at www.campfontanelle.com