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Fall celebrations bring weekend fun
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Residents can sample several types of chili from 3-8 p.m. Saturday at FPCAs fifth annual Chili Cook-off Fall Festival. - photo by Photo provided.

With Halloween behind them, community organizations are embracing the festive spirit this weekend to keep adults and children eager for the changing of the seasons as they look toward Thanksgiving.

The Liberty County Armed Services YMCA and First Presbyterian Christian Academy both will offer fall festivals filled with food, fun and games Saturday.

The Y’s sixth annual Fall Harvest Festival, which runs from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., will offer an assortment of activities from carnival-style children’s games to hayrides and a pumpkin-carving contest.

“It will be fun,” military and family programs Director Marissa Thompson said. “We’re a community-based organization, and we just want to see what goes on in the community. We want them to see what goes on here, and we also want to know what they would like.”

To showcase the organization’s fitness programs, there also will be aerobics demonstrations and a Zumba-thon, she added. Prospective members can tour the facilities, and there will be a discount on joiners’ fees during the event.

The festival also will feature live entertainment, with a performance by Samoan dancers and the Mexican Hat Dance.

Community organizations will be on hand, with an Xtreme Whips car show and children’s fingerprinting by the Hinesville Police Department, Thompson said.

“In the past, we’ve had over 1,500 guests, so hopefully they’ll bring some friends this year,” she said. Admission and all events are free.

At FPCA, foodies can bring their senses to life by comparing flavors and spices during the fifth annual Chili Cook-off Fall Festival from 3-8 p.m. Saturday.

So far, the school has nine registered chili submissions that will vie for first- and second-place awards as well as people’s choice, according to event Chairwoman Leigh Smiley.

The event, with its $10 admission for those 12 and older, $5 admission for children 4-11 and free entry for those younger than 3, is a major fundraiser for the school, Smiley said. It also will feature carnival games, live music and pony rides.

“From every age group, you will have some type of entertainment, and all the food you can eat for $10,” Smiley said.

This year, the school especially is emphasizing community connections, she said. In doing so, proceeds from the event’s “Jail and Bail,” where teachers, parents and volunteers are placed in “jail” and must be bailed out with donations, will benefit the Hellgren family for medical treatments for their son, Brandon Hellgren.

Brandon, who was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 7, is the son of two community educators, Bradwell Institute teacher and baseball coach Rhett Hellgren, and Frank Long Elementary School Principal Judy Hellgren.

Prior to the cook-off and festival, the school also will have a 5K run and one-mile fun run early Saturday morning. Runners can register at 8:30 a.m. on the day of the race at the side of the school near Bradwell Street or in advance by calling 876-0441.

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