By Lindsay peyton

Now that the summer heat has begun to fade, churches in the Texas Annual Conference are celebrating the changing seasons. Several congregations are hosting fall festivals, each promising fellowship and plenty of old-fashioned family fun.

Here are a few ways to join in the festivities:

  • Shop ‘til you drop at the Harvest Market. The United Methodist Women of FUMC Brenham are hosting their annual Harvest Market from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 28 in the congregation’s activity center. The church is located at 408 N Baylor St in Brenham.

“It’s like shopping in a boutique,” Dena Miller, the congregation’s UMW president, said.

Tables will be overflowing with baked goods, antiques, jams and jellies, as well as antiques, wreaths, jewelry and holiday items. There will be handmade quilts, sewn fabric bags and crocheted scrubbies. A few fan favorites include cinnamon candied pecans, jalapeno bread, spicy crackers, homemade granola and gingerbread people.

All items are donated, with proceeds going directly to missions – locally, nationally and globally. “We give a lot, and that’s why we do this,” Miller said.

  • Get in the autumn spirit at the Fall Festival. CrossRoads UMC in Houston is hosting its Fall Festival/ Festival de Otoño from noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 29. The church is located at 10030 Scarsdale Blvd.

Event organizer Karol Aragonez said the free event will include a petting zoo, pony rides, jumping castles, crafts and games, as well as a visit from the fire department. The church will also be serving up hot dogs, popcorns, chips and lemonade.

“Everyone has fun,” Aragonez said. “The kids are running around, playing games and winning candy.”

The goal of the event, she explained, is to help build the children’s ministry at CrossRoads. “We’re just hoping to create more interest in the community about joining the church,” she said. “We’re a smaller church, very heartfelt and welcoming with open arms.”

  • Play at the carnival midway and peruse the vendors at the FUMC Missouri City Fall Festival. This event promises something for everyone in the family – from shopping for unique finds and trying your luck on a carnival game to sampling delicious food and bidding at the silent auction.

The FUMC Missouri City Fall Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11. The church is located at 3900 Lexington Blvd in Missouri City.

Marie Abbott, executive co-chair, explained that the fest, now in its 29th year, typically brings more than 1,000 guests to the church campus.

Younger guests will enjoy the bounce houses, rock wall, rope bridge and inflatables. Youth can get creative with sand art, spin art and face painting.

In the crafts marketplace, more than 50 vendors will offer unique jewelry, clothing, holiday decorations and handcrafted works of art. A silent auction will feature sporting events, concert tickets, restaurant gift cards and curated baskets.

There are a variety of food trucks, as well as an option for an indoor meal at the Tea Room. “A lot of couples will have a little date there,” Abbott said.

The Aunt Hattie’s storefront serves up home-baked pies, cakes, cookies, as well as  sugar-free and gluten-free treats. An international section features treats made by church members from around the world.

Admission, parking and carnival midway games are free. Still, the event serves as a major fundraiser for missions and church items. Since its inception, the event has raised more than $489,000. Funds come from vendor fees, a percentage of food truck sales, silent auction items, the Tea Room and Aunt Hatties.

The carnival midway is manned by groups who meet at the church throughout the year, like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scout Troops. “They give back their service as a thank you,” Abbott said.

Local high school students volunteer before and after the event, setting up and tearing it all down. “They’re a huge help,” Abbott said .

She explained that the festival is a way for the church to provide a day of merriment for Missouri City and neighboring areas. “It’s just a nice community event,” she said. “We have a lot of fun with it. It’s a good time.”