By Demian Ryder

Fowler's Fall Festival was held in Gerard Park on Saturday, in excellent weather, and was well attended. Games and contests were held during the four-hour afternoon portion of the event, for children and adults alike.

The Festival kicked off at 1 p.m., beginning with 10 adult competitors assembling for perhaps the last Arkansas Valley horseshoes tourney of the 2017 season. Metal rang on metal for an hour of sharp competition. “Got blocked by my own ringer,” laughed Ray Lucero after a throw. In the end he and son Matt came in as runners-up, while David Salas and organizer Hayden Marlow took the championship.

Concessions at the Fall Festival were provided by Fowler alumni of Summit Ministries Christian conference in Manitou Springs, and served as a scholarship fundraiser for future attendees of that event. Volunteers included Rachel and Luke Johnson, Nathan Jones, and Richard Nameth, among others.

The same organization also ran three classic park games, enjoyed by a crowd of competitors. Rexella and Ryan Day won three-legged race. The egg toss went to Andrea and Alyssa Maestas. The trio of Austin Steely and Isabella and Garrett Pharr won the sack race.

The beer garden served as a fundraiser for the Fowler Recreation Department, with the assistance of department head Travis True. Likewise, Cade Sallee volunteered or was roped in to emcee (“they didn’t have anybody, and I just kinda jumped in”) on behalf of the Fowler Rural Fire Protection District, which accepted donations from chili connoisseurs at the conclusion of the cook-off. Becca Sharp won best green chili, and Katie Foster won for red. The overall chili champion was Dorothy Sallee (“I swear, there was no collusion,” said the emcee).

Yard pong was held in the beer garden area, using rubber balls with cartoon characters and water-filled buckets. Jaclyn Sharon hosted the game; “we’ve always done it as a family at home, but this is the first time we’ve brought it here.” The trash talk was appropriately intense for this kind of competition (says one player, “it says nothing about ‘no stabbing’ in those rules!”; “it doesn’t say anything about pressure points, either!” says his opponent). Second place went to Dee and Becca Sharp. The final champions were Bryant McCuistion and Nick Prosser.

Youth competitors played at the Football Toss sponsored by the Fowler High School Track Club. The third grade and below tier was won by Brock True, while the fourth and up went to Hagen McCuistion, KC Royals fan.

Many stations were available with ongoing activities throughout the afternoon, each sponsored by a community booster. Attendees could place their faces in the wooden cutouts painted by Neylan Griffy, or play checkers or tic-tac-toe with pumpkins, sponsored by Launa and Mike Manchego. Pumpkins were brought by Colorado Seeds and Sallee Family Farm, for those and many other purposes.

Gamers could also try their hand at Witch Hunt Ring Toss, sponsored by Jenny and Craig Manchego, or at cornhole, with sponsors Micaela and Jordan Leffler, or even at pumpkin golf, by Shelby McCuiston (Realtor at Jones-Healy). Pumpkin bowling, sponsored by Brandon and Bryant McCuistion, was a more aggressive option.

Energetic play was also the rule at the Kiddie Corral, sponsored by The Bunkhouse, Riverside Realty, Otero True Value, Arkansas Valley Co-op, and Eddy Plumbing & Supply. The City of Fowler and organizing committee members Shiann Garrett and Becca Sharp brought an enormous bouncy castle that was a hit with children all afternoon, earning its rent of “three to four hundred, somewhere in there.”

Children could also take time to relax and take on a cosmetic costume by “Fine Line Face Painting” with artists Rephena Graham and Mavis Crandall. Their work was sponsored by First National Bank. Others could paint pumpkins, with an art table run by Jacee Manchego and sponsored by the Fowler High School Art Class and Rebecca Zartman.

Accolades for artistic creation went to Pumpkin Carving champion Colby Lieber, as well as the top three businesses to compete in the Scarecrow Contest: City of Fowler, third place; Loose Cut Hair Salon, second; and Red Top Liquor & Wine, overall winner.

Other posted sponsors of the event include Benesch Trucking, Cummings Carpet Service, Flowers by Jeanne, Fowler Health Care, Handyman Services, Kari’s Insurance Services, KL Freight, Nepesta Valley Stockyards, Phat Willy’s Diner, Red Top Wine & Liquor, Shultz Law Office, SM Construction, Tamarack Grill, Thaxton’s Market, Valley Designs, and Valley View Electric.

Patrolling the park, relaxed Officer Troy Morgan of the Fowler Police Department noted an unsurprising “no problems” with the event. “We always like the positives” in Fowler, Morgan said, and the Fall Festival serves the role.