Foothills Fall Festival: Sunny Faces at Adventure Land

The sun was shining at Adventure Land at the 2009 Foothills Fall Festival, it just wasn’t in the sky.

Sunny smiles were everywhere as happy children -- and even some of the adults -- climbed on inflatables, played in the sand, watched the shows and even enjoyed ice cream.

Youngsters have a way seeing fun when adults don’t.

“It was rainy, muddy and cold,” said Adventure Land committee chair Patti Clevenger, “but the kids had fun anyway. The kids loved the mud, I don’t think that bothered them. The adults? Well, the cold bother them more than most kids I saw.”

This is the seventh year Adventure Land has been part of the festival that celebrated its 10 year anniversary this past weekend. Clevenger praised the many volunteers who turned out despite the cold and rainy condition. “They deserve every thank you in the world we can give them. They weathered the weather,” she said.

Creed Headrick, 62, Maryville, said he helped out because he wanted to contribute to the community. “It’s nice the town has something like this going on, and you want to support it. It’s fun working with the kids,” he said.

Ed Culver, 66, said the parents were having fun just watching their kids having fun. “It seems like the parents are having more fun than the kids were,” he said.

Ann Marie Morin, Maryville, said she enjoys working in Adventure Land. “I just love it. I’ve been doing it almost every year for last five years. It’s fun. I love the kids,” she said.

Clevenger said the people providing high-end activities like the Monkey Motion and Euro Bungee, were really having a good time. “Friday was harder because of the mud but once we got all the straw down, those activities were more fun,” she said.

The rain led to new chores for volunteers. “We had to do more things we haven’t had to do in the past -- like sweep out of the inflatables and wash down Tiny Tot Land, but that’s OK,” Clevenger said.

It has always been hot in the past, so volunteers went through a lot of water. “This time they didn’t go through near as much water. We didn’t have problem with people overheating. That was a good thing,” she said. “It was a year of firsts - the first time we had so much rain, mud and cold weather.”

But participants on Friday got to enjoy the anniversary celebration during a birthday party for the festival in Adventure Land complete with cupcakes. “We still had fun in spite of all our challenges and that’s the whole purpose,” Clevenger said.

Twiggy, the water-skiing squirrel, was on hand to entertain but even with the water heated to his liking, the animal sometimes wouldn’t ski because of the wind. His handlers still made him accessible to his young fans. “Whenever he wasn’t able to water ski, the kids were able to pet and meet him,” she said.

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