Need a place to pick the perfect jack-o’- lantern while enjoying an evening of spooky good times?
Faith Presbyterian Church is putting on its annual Pumpkin Festival Saturday from 4-7:30 p.m., where children and families can enjoy music, games, hayrides, puppet shows and more.
The church grounds have been transformed into a pumpkin patch, with more than 2,500 pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. Admission is free (a canned good donation suggested) along with nearly all of the activities offered.
“It’s a great family event that doesn’t cost you any money,” said Nancy Exline, director of children and youth ministries at Faith Presbyterian. “Come, have a free afternoon with your family and enjoy. You may see your friends, your neighbors — it’s really just a great family event.”
Attendees can find treats from local food trucks supplying good eats while the children can find tricks galore with games, a bounce house, face painting, crafts, hayrides and a blacklight puppet show — a full-sized production, Exline said.
“We’ve never done food trucks before, but we know that’s really popular,” Exline said. “We try to do something new every year.”
A $5 wristband can be purchased to have unlimited hayrides and turns on inflatable amusements. All of the other activities for children are free.
“The kids love it. There’s so much excitement,” Exline said. “Along with the games, the Cape Coral Police are here, the firemen come over with their fire truck — they love that. When you see kids running around and hear that sound of fun, it’s just the best.”
Thousands of pumpkins will be displayed on hay bales and for sale — based on size, not weight.
The carveable pumpkins come from New Mexico from a Native American reservation.
Profits from pumpkin sales, as well as the festival, go towards a mission trip to West Virginia the church takes every year as part of the Cabell-Lincoln Workcamp.
“We work on homes to make them warm, safe and dry,” Exline said. “We don’t build new homes, we work with what they have. Some of these houses have been in their families for over 100 years. Most of them have children or are disabled — a lot of veterans that are disabled. We do a lot of wheelchair ramps, put on new decks — mobil homes that don’t have a ramp, especially if they’re in a wheelchair.
“Roofs that have gone bad, flooring that is totally rotting out, we put in a lot of new floors, just to make them dry. ‘Warm safe and dry,’ that’s our motto.”
The church has made the mission trip to West Virginia for over two decades, as high schoolers get a lesson in perspective, Exline said.
“They always come back feeling, ‘Wow, we’ve got it lucky,'” Exline said. “They come back changed, they really do.”
The festival has grown in size and attendance over the years, becoming a true community event in the hearts and minds of those at Faith Presbyterian Church.
“My favorite part is seeing people from all over the community come,” Exline said. “We want to give back to the community, that’s what it’s all about.”
What started out as just a small gathering has blossomed into a celebration that touches all the bases of a traditional pumpkin patch/farm you would find in states up north.
“Every year it gotten bigger and bigger, now, it’s the whole campus and we have well over 1,000 people who come,” Exline said.
Friendly costumes are welcome, and candy and small prizes will be passed out at the various games the festival puts on.
For additional information, please visit www.fpcfl.org.
Faith Presbyterian Church is at 4544 Coronado Parkway in Cape Coral.
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