Fifth Fall Festival Bigger, Better Than Ever
By Doug Carroll
In five years, GCU’s Fall Festival has gotten big.
Big enough that it can accommodate a seemingly endless line for cotton candy and also the seemingly contradictory presence of a west Phoenix dental practice.
This year, the community festival moved to the west side of the Promenade, and those in attendance raved about the improved Mariposa Lawn lighting and spacious feel. Thursday evening’s crowd enjoyed a variety of game and food options — not to mention perfect weather — and exceeded last year’s attendance of 5,000.
Murray’s business, which also includes the large, inflatable jumping games popular with young children, has been adding a cotton candy machine each year to accommodate demand. He said the Fall Festival was one of about two dozen events on his calendar for October, and his staff of eight was crazy busy on Thursday.
“We’re a small family business focused on outreach,” Murray said. “Part of the money we make helps us do ministry in places like the Navajo Reservation.”
This year’s festival had a dozen food booths and about 50 game booths — a far cry from the event’s humble beginnings. Mik Milem remembered the first try at putting it on.
“I had this idea that our students should do a ministry to the kids in the community,” said Milem, GCU’s former campus pastor and current dean of students. “Nobody expected anybody to show up, and we had about 1,500.”
Milem said the University’s athletes are the ones who make it go, manning game booths and doing cleanup afterward.
“Just seeing all the people here is awesome,” Johannsen said as a young Batman practiced setting balls into a net. “It’s really cool. All the kids seem happy to be getting their candy.”
The office of A Beary Nice Smile Dental, near 36th Avenue and Camelback Road, passed out goody bags that included toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash. It was the practice’s first year at the festival, and Dr. Steven Chang even did some on-the-spot consultations.
Dressed in Halloween finery was Tony Miller, a development manager for the Ken Blanchard College of Business. Miller’s authentic Colonel Sanders costume — white suit, horn-rimmed glasses, white goatee, string tie and cane — turned heads all evening.
Miller said he wore the $180 outfit last December when he made a presentation comparing KFC and Chick-fil-A for a master’s of science in leadership, or MSL, class. (It must have done the job; he said he got an “A” for a grade.)
“I had to get one more use out of this,” Miller said.
John Trudell of the College of Education won the Alumni Relations chili cook-off for the second consecutive year with a tangy — though not fire-alarm hot — recipe. Second place among the 11 entries went to Jackie Cotia, an enrollment manager for the College of Liberal Arts and the Ken Blanchard College of Business.
Reach Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or [email protected].