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Family Fun Fest holds true to its name



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Megan Yandian of Northfield takes a whirl in the Orbitron during the Family Fun Fest last Saturday. The annual event of Praise Assembly of God Church in Tilton offers families a day of fun, food and fellowship, all for free. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
September 28, 2011
TILTON — The annual Family Fun Fest, held last Saturday at Praise Assembly of God Church, was a big hit with kids of all ages as they played games, tried their hand at target shooting with paintballs, made ice cream sundaes, and visited the bouncy house for some high energy fun.

The concept for the festival was presented to church members five years ago by Pastor Bill Williams, and has since become a tradition with the parish and many local families.

"We wanted to give something back to the surrounding communities and provide a way for parents to bring the children here for some free, fun things to do," Williams said.

As boys and girls arrived, they were asked to decorate a paper bag to hold all the goodies they would collect during the festival. As they traveled from one game or activity to another, they collected tickets for participation, which could later be redeemed for prizes. Besides games like outdoor bowling, a bean bag toss and ring toss, there was a sand box with hidden treasures to dig for, and, especially popular with the boys, paint ball target shooting.

"This is as safe as it can get for target shooting. We use it with the Royal Rangers group, and always teach safety first," said Larry Hennessy, commander of the group.

Royal Rangers, he explained, is a Christian scouting group for boys who meet at PAG, where they are taught survival skills, self-sufficiency and responsibility.

Members of the parish ran the activities, and said all the items were donated over the years to help make the festival fun for all. A crazy hair table provided all sorts of ribbons, hair ties, and even headbands and pipe cleaners to create wild hairstyles or headgear. From there, many went to have their faces painted, and tried their hand at spin art. Everyone liked making their own sundaes, and if they still hand room, many ducked inside for free cotton candy, pastries, hot pretzels, cookies and drinks.

Kendra Weeks of Northfield said the festival is something her two children, Hunter and Chloe McDonald, look forward to every year.

"They really get excited about coming here. We wouldn't miss it," she said.

People were also treated to demonstrations by Youth Minister Pastor Jay as he displayed his "Bike Trial" skills. A course was designed using wooden crates, pallets and ladders. Hopping on his bicycle, Pastor Jay showed families how he could hop his bicycle up and down the ladders, leap from platforms and balancing precariously on one wheel.

"Bike Trials are getting more and more notice from kids who enjoy extreme sports, and it's really a lot of fun," he said.

Once the second place winner of a national Bike Trials competition, Pastor Jay recently joined the church, and said he hopes to start a group for young people who enjoy skate boarding and other similar activities.

"I want to reach out to these kids and have some fun with them while helping them build each other up," Pastor Jay said.

Fourteen-year-old Nick Bracy of Tilton was assisting with the festival, as well as enjoying some of the activities. He said Pastor Bill and Pastor Jay were the greatest, and thanked them for helping to make the Family Fun Fest so terrific each year.

The ultimate activity for the day was perhaps the Orbitron, stationed on the front lawn of the church. A series of large circles that fit together inside one another held a platform in the center for a rider to strap into. Once secured, a mighty push from the operators would send the rider spinning in circles like a gyroscope.

"It was designed after a NASA program to give people the feeling of weightlessness," Pastor Jay explained.

While most adults said it made them dizzy just to watch the kids spinning in the colorful contraption, the kids couldn't seem to get enough as they lined up for repeat trips inside the Orbitron.

A series of raffles sent some lucky children home with toy prizes throughout the day and balloons, toy panda bears and other treats sent everyone away with a small gift and a big smile.

Praise Assembly of God Church, which considers itself a "back to basics" church, is located at 180 School St. in Tilton. They have a number of programs, community service and youth activities, and services including Women's and Men's Ministry groups, Kids Church and more. For details on times and other church programs, please visit www.pagweb.org.

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