Culowhee Valley school’s fall festival

Recently, the Cullowhee Valley School hosted its annual Fall Festival. Every year, Cullowhee Valley Fall Festival hosts over 700 children and their parents, entertaining them with food, games, and educational booths. Mary Kay Bauer is a professor at Western Carolina University and a mother of two Cullowhee Valley students. Working with volunteers and the PTA, Bauer has been involved with the festival for about five years. The purposes of the festival are to raise money for the PTA but also to provide fun for the students, she said. The money raised from the festival is placed in the Cullowhee Valley PTA bank account to be used for school projects throughout the year. The PTA plans on using the money for projects such as building a pavilion behind the school, replacing playground equipment, landscaping details, and fixing or replacing the baseball fence, she added.A great deal of preparation and effort went in to setting up the festival. Parents and students offered their time and talents to brainstorm game ideas, build games, prepare advertisements, collect the prizes and candy given to the winners of carnival games, bake cakes and cookies, and organize the events of the night. Volunteers also signed up in advance to work during the festival. For the festival, the entire school is transformed into a carnival. Upon arriving, festival attendees walk into the school and are given the option to either buy individual tickets or a wristband that allows for unlimited access to most games. With Mom and Dad in tow, students are then free to explore the school and find their favorite attractions. Popcorn tables, face-painting, the cake walk, ring-tossing games, and the dunking booth are popular with children of all ages. For the older children, a rock climbing wall and inflatable games are well-liked, Bauer said. A wide variety of games are provided for both the younger and the older children. The cake walk is a great parent-student game. It’s also one of the most popular. “Everyone loves the cake walk. We had over 80 cakes donated, and every one of them went!” Bauer said. The community provides various ways of support for the festival each year. The local Fire Department fills the dunking booth, parents who work as law enforcers keep order inside and outside the school, and many businesses donate food products and various supplies. “Since this is an annual event, many local business and contributors were prepared and ready to give what they could,” Bauer said. WCU students also donate their time in order to make the festival successful. This year, volunteers were particularly needed because of rainy weather. The extra helpers aided in keeping things running smoothly, Bauer said. Each year, WCU volunteers are asked to sign the volunteer sheet indicating how long they worked and to which game they were assigned. This year, over 100 students came in to help. “I was very pleased and proud of our students for stepping up and helping out. I thank them,” Bauer said.