MOCCASIN, Arizona – A sudden and violent storm Saturday afternoon didn’t stop the folks in Moccasin, Arizona, from hosting their annual Fall Festival – they simply moved the party indoors until the storm blew past.
“I’ve been setting up events for 20 years but this is the first time I’ve ever had to clean up an event before it even started,” Stephanie Johnson, of Cane Beds, Arizona, said.
Johnson was among those who had spent the early part of Saturday setting up for the festival, which took place at the Kaibab Stake Park and the Kaibab Ward LDS chapel in Moccasin.
As festivalgoers began arriving at 3 p.m. Arizona time, music played from a disc jockey stand and children began lining up to have their faces painted and to get snow cones and bags of popcorn. As guests continued arriving, so did the storm clouds, and heavy winds kicked up suddenly, driving attendees indoors to the church gymnasium. Volunteers, including Johnson, scrambled to rescue decorations and clean up debris being strewn about by the sudden storm as large raindrops fell.
Tables were quickly set up in the gymnasium for dinner, which was planned to be served outdoors but Mother Nature had other plans. Barbecue beef that had been slow cooked in an outdoor pit was brought indoors, and an old-fashioned Dutch oven dinner with all the trimmings commenced while musician Bob Nisson, of Washington City, tuned up and entertained the large crowd with Western songs and standard ballads.
An estimated 200 or more people packed the gym – folks who had traveled from nearby Kanab, Fredonia, Cane Beds and from as far away as St. George to attend the festival.
As dinner wound down, it was announced that the storm had finally subsided, and many people moved back outside to the park pavilion to take part in games and contests and to enjoy the music that continued to play outside.
A horseshoe-pitching contest, a two-man crosscut saw contest, a potato sack race, a cowboy bean bake-off and much more took place at the festival for young and old alike.
Some of the decorations, including a man-sized scarecrow originally stationed at the parking lot entrance to welcome guests, had been blown askance by the storm and remained that way, but the rain and wind didn’t ultimately put a damper on the party, which continued well after dark and ended with an outdoor dance.
“It took me back to when I was young, when families would go to the rodeos and then they’d have a dance afterward,” Kathleen Baber, of St. George, said. “It was fun to see families dancing together – fathers with their daughters, the moms holding their babies and dancing, little kids dancing together. Everybody was having a good time, dancing and having fun like in the good old days.”
Next year, the folks of Moccasin and the surrounding towns will have their fingers crossed for blue skies – but if the storm clouds return, it won’t stop these folks from enjoying a down-home good time.
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