By Pat Young
For Hometown News
Driving by the Silver Sands Bridle Club at 625 Tomoka Farms Road near New Smyrna Beach and Port Orange, you'll see a lot of activity this week as 4H club members prepare for their annual Fall Festival.
This year's event is from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, and Saturday, Oct. 26. Many area 4H clubs participate in the popular event, which has grown into a major Halloween happening with fun activities for the whole family.
The 4Hers range in age from 5 to18. Some raise livestock. Some ride horses. Some garden or bake or sew. But they all have one thing in common; they are learning how to live a wholesome life. Standing for head, heart, health and hand, 4H has been around for more than 75 years.
"It educates youth to learn how to live life," said Nora Galbreath, who is the sparkplug behind the fall festival and a "retired" 4H leader. "It teaches etiquette, raising animals, government, becoming better students, sewing, baking, gardening, horticulture, public speaking. It covers a broad perspective. They learn everything."
Right now, they are learning how to work together as a team to prepare for this major event, which raises money to support area 4H clubs and many other groups who help with the event, as well as the Silver Sands college scholarship fund.
The fall festival started in 1995 when Ms. Galbreath decided to put on a community event hosted by her 4H club, the Coronado 4H (now called the Silver Sands 4H Club). It started at the Volusia Feed Store on Samsula Drive in New Smyrna Beach, but the event soon grew too large for the store. Ms. Galbreath asked Silver Sands Bridle Club to donate its facility, and the event has been there ever since. The Silver Sands 4H club is still one of the instrumental clubs in the fall festival, with 4H leader Becky Maloney and her three 4H daughters all active in the event. The event is sponsored by the Silver Sands Bridle Club, with many 4H clubs helping to put on the fall festival event.
"It is Silver Sands' way of giving back to the community," Ms. Galbreath said, and all of the 4H leaders agree.
There is a "haunted hay ride" throughout the wooded area behind the club. The event also includes a haunted house, pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting, little train rides, numerous game booths, food booths, music provided by a DJ and a costume contest. The event has become so popular that the New Smyrna Beach Police Explorers (a youth group) help direct traffic, and a Volusia County deputy has to be hired to keep traffic flowing. But the entire event is run by volunteers, 4Hers and families and friends.
"People can come out and have a great time without it costing an arm and a leg," Ms. Galbreath said.
Admission to the event is free, but there is a charge for the hayride, food, drinks and games.
"It's just a great family event, a place to bring the children," said Danny Graves, president of Silver Sands Bridle Club. "And it's a big 4H fundraiser."
So put on a costume, bring the kids and prepare to have a great time at the Fall Festival this weekend.