Despite the fact that Bear and I are still just barely coming out of our ‘indoor kid’ cocoons, somebody at church thought it would be a great idea to put us in charge of the ward Harvest Festival. The intention was great – shake things up, get us new folks involved – but the logistics of it all proved to be a nightmare. On top of our pretty ludicrously busy lives, Bear has been getting up at 5:30 to teach early morning seminary to the teenagers, I’ve been planning the monthly Relief Society activity, and then we had this Harvest Festival. I’ve been averaging about one weepy breakdown a day. But we did it, our team did it, and it was a huge success.
When we were first presented with the opportunity to plan this event, we thought we were planning a chili cookoff. Ho Ho Ho Ho were we wrong. This thing is SERIOUS. People treat this Harvest Festival like the event of the year. Everyone had stories of their favorite game or tradition, the year that they ran out of food, the year the kids got into the orchard and picked all the fruit, the year it rained, and everybody had an opinion about what HAD to happen to make it a real Green Valley Ward Harvest Festival. It was all a tad overwhelming.
Complicating the matters was the fact that since we’ve only been in the congregation since April, and have pretty heavy travel schedules and even heavier bouts of illness, we still don’t know many people. We kept hearing, “Oh, soandso knows all about that. You gotta talk to soandso.” And, of course, we’d never met soandso. We were tossed right out of our comfort zone and into the thick of the ward happenings.
By far, the favorite and most eagerly awaited event was the chicken rodeo. We all stood in a circle, shoulder to shoulder, to make an arena, and then a few people at a time were called out into the center to capture a chicken set free to run. It was hilarious, especially watching the littlest kids get into it. No, I take it back. Especially watching the biggest kids get into it. The sister missionaries in particular tucked their skirts up and got down.
The big surprise of the chicken rodeo was our dear friends the Smith’s. Their family caught every chicken they went out for. You know those reality shows about people who hunt feral hogs? If feral chickens ever become a problem, I think the Smith family has a new career.
The party was held at the home of one of the ward members, and the property was stunning. There was a barn with a full sized water wheel, a teepee set up for story time, a hay maze with a slide for an exit, and the most incredible view. Bear spent most of the evening running around doing hosting duties, so I dragged Atti in his little orange wagon all over creation. He has gotten really into farm life lately and all he wanted to do was pet the goats, eat popcorn, and watch the chickens in their coop while he said, “Wow! Look!” By the end of the night he was exhausted from too much sugar and excitement and I was exhausted from hiking all over the place dragging a wagon behind me. I needed a pack mule.
If I had realized what I was getting myself into, I never would have agreed to take it on. And heaven knows I could have done without all the stress. (My house, you guys. It is currently so dirty that I’m not sure it’s safe to live here.) But! There was no getting out of this event without becoming a full on part of the ward. We are the new kids no longer. We had to get over our reticence, make phone calls, hold meetings, ask for help, accept the help, ask for more help, make announcements and jump into the traditions of this area with both feet. We have new friendships forged in the trenches of planning big things, and the gratitude of good people. A few years from now when some other poor sod gets this job they’ll be told about the year the kids picked all the fruit from the orchard, the year they ran out of food, the year it rained, and the year the Edmunds’ thought they were planning a chili cookoff.