Boys and girls waited eagerly for the start of the Easter Fest egg hunt at Bryant Field in Belmont last week. Tossing a few of the nearly 20,000 colorful eggs in the air were (left to right) 11-year-old Micaiah of Tilton, three-year-old Jordan and nine-year-old Liam, both of Belmont. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
April 19, 2017BELMONT — Last Saturday afternoon, Bryant Field in Belmont was filled with lots of fun and excitement as the fourth annual Easter Fest, organized by several local churches, joined forces to create a day for families to gather together and enjoy springtime in the Lakes Region.
Paster Andy Barnes of First Baptist Church of Belmont said Clive Roberts first presented the concept for an Easter Fest to his church. Roberts had been visiting Texas one winter and found the Tree of Life church, which held a big festival for Easter each year.
"When he came home, he brought the idea back to us. We got other churches involved and it's been growing ever since," said Barnes.
Over the past three years, that Texas church has helped sponsor the event as one of their mission outreach projects, but this year, Barnes said the Lakes Region churches decided to make the project their own.
"And by the Grace of God, here we are today. We did it," he said with a smile.
Among the churches and religious organizations involved this year were Barnes' Belmont congregation, Lochmere Baptist Church, First Baptist Church of Sanbornton, Hope Community Chapel of Franklin, Laconia Christian Academy, Heavenly Sunshine Pre-School and Camp Sentinel. They were further supported by several local businesses organizations as well, such as Franklin Savings Bank, Coca-Cola and more.
Beginning in January, each of the churches volunteered their time to fill plastic eggs with all sorts of treats. Barnes joked that it became a bit of a competition with some of the organizations as to which could fill the most eggs. The end result this year was nearly 20,000 colorful Easter Eggs for children to gather.
There was more than just the egg hunt however. A bouncy house was a popular spot for many of the children and a climbing wall had them lined up for a turn as well. There was also face painting, free hot dogs, and lots of room to run and play. In addition to all of that, each child received a free raffle ticket for a chance to win a number of great prizes, including 23 new bicycles and some electronic tablets.
"This is always a great time. We've been coming every year since it started and the kids have a blast," said one mom from Belmont.
Some of the little girls even took advantage of the opportunity to wear their Easter dress a day early and had fun dancing in their ruffled skirts as they waited for the egg hunt to begin.
Camp Sentinel, Heavenly Sunshine and other groups had booths set up to hand out information on their educational services and upcoming summer programs as well.
"This is all just our way of giving back to our communities. None of the organizations have any expectations except to have people come out and enjoy a beautiful spring day in Belmont," said Barnes.