ARNOLD—The 121-year tradition of the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home’s (MBCH) Strawberry Festival had a new look this year and a new location. The Strawberry Festival was held June 2 for the first time at First Baptist Church of Arnold with several added attractions.
“The size and the enthusiasm of the crowd were so much greater this year,” Bob Springate, MBCH chief operating officer, said, “I believe the children’s activities plus the inflatables helped us draw the bigger crowd.”
Some of the activities for the children included face painting, jump houses, 18-foot rock climb/slide, castle maze, balloon artist, craft area, plus carnival games. “All of these fun activities gave children an opportunity to spend more money,” Springate said, “and suddenly kids are helping kids.”
Derald Harris, director of public relations of MBCH, agreed that the new activities attracted many families to the Strawberry Festival. “I think it was also the ample parking available and the promise of having most of the Festival inside with air conditioning that brought in the crowd,” Harris said. “In recent years, we’ve seen dwindling crowds and the weather was brutal. It would be unbearable in the heat of those tents that we set up.”
In addition to the heat factor, the tents were expensive. “We are still in the process of determining the finances,” Springate said, “but, I’m confident we will be better off financially working with FBC Arnold. They graciously donated their facilities, their staff members and many other volunteers. By not needing those large tents, we saved a major expense.”
Harris said the Strawberry Festival is a far-reaching event. “It has always been a wonderful fundraiser,” he said. “But, this year it is also a public relations event. We are reaching beyond our Baptist audience to a whole new evangelical market with the help of JOY FM. The Christian radio station did a 2-hour live broadcast from the Festival. Our hope for this partnership with this Christian radio station is to educate more Christians about the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home and what we do.”
The education will pay off in the future for the children at the home. “We believe by reaching other Christians who did not know about us before, we can attract more donors, more foster parents and more prayer partners,” Harris said.
The success of the Strawberry Festival was summed up by Springate. “The more successful this event is,” he said, “the more children we can care for and it will keep them off the streets.”