Last year Ballinger and the Chamber of Commerce put on Hallow Fest for the first time. The festival was planned well in advance with the details worked out, but Mother Nature had other plans and tested their resolve. The forecast showed that the Ballinger and the surrounding area would receive significant rainfall and eventually received almost 2” of rain on the day of Hallow Fest. Within 24 hours the organizers had changed the plans and relocated the event from City Park up the hill to the Ballinger Community Center.

Ballinger police officer Suzanne Torres was a driving force behind the festival last year. It was a hectic 24 hours but the organizers and volunteers proved their mettle in the way they worked together and moved the venue indoors at the last minute. In the end hundreds of attendees showed up to see the ghost and ghouls and get some treats. Torres says that the organizers and volunteers worked for 20 hours straight and have worked to improve the event this year, “We will have access to the arena this year and will use that for the Trunk or Treat, allowing a limited number of cars to come in and feature their trunks! The rest of the arena can be filled with booths for information, treats, games, etc. However, if the cars are used, again in limited numbers, they will not be able to leave until all the youth are cleared out of the arena, for safety.

The other challenge we faced were the sheer number of people that went through Hallow Fest. We have restructured the walk-through, using the existing bay doors to lead the trick-or-treaters from one area to another. Since the scarier part and the trunk or treat part will be in larger areas, we believe the flow of the crowd will be a lot smoother.”

The momentum for the festival has been building this year, with excitement and anticipation bubbling over, “This is the second year that Hallow Fest is featured along with the annual Trunk or Treat. It will be held at the Ballinger Community Center on Thursday, October 31, 2019 at 6 p.m. It is free entry and open to all! Trunks, displays, games and more with a lot of treat stops in various areas! The Ministerial Alliance is collecting non-perishable donations and provide hot dogs for those donations.”

Torres spoke about the inspiration to create Hallow Fest last year, “I worked the Ballinger Police Department’s section of Trunk or Treat for a couple of years. I’ve always enjoyed Halloween and thought to add some cool elements such as animatronics and dress the part in our booth area. It became evident to me that Trunk or Treat had outgrown itself from 8th street and the safety factor of being so near the main streets with commercial vehicles was a concern. I approached the Ballinger Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center and suggested the event be relocated into the Ballinger City Park for the safety of the youth and provide an area for the event to grow. It got approved immediately and plans went underway to host it in the new location. However, the weather did not cooperate with us very well in 2018 and at the last minute we ended up using the Ballinger Community Center and only half the area, at that. As it turned out, it was fantastic!”

Torres also points out that the event far exceeded expectations last year, “It was phenomenal! I was very impressed with the turnout and did not realize how much more we could do given the opportunity! I do not believe we saw the same costume on any person, both young and young at heart! One side was Trunk or Treat, which is coordinated with the chamber and the other side was a little scarier and fun, coordinated by the Ballinger Police Department and other volunteers in the community. We gave attendees the opportunity to go to either side but both sides had tons of treat stops, information booths, teal pumpkins (allergy awareness) and activities.”

With the success of the event last year everyone is expecting great things from the festival this year, “We have added an awesome event! The Youth Costume Contest for the little ones in three age categories: 1) Newborn to 4 years old, 2) Kindergarten to 2nd grade and 3) 3rd grade to 5th grade. This portion is brand new and is coordinated by Tammy Truesdell. Judging will be at 7:30 pm by the bleachers in the arena. There will be a first place prize for each age group. This is very new so we would love to hear ideas for next year’s event. Again, we are also allowing actual vehicles to come into the arena area but it is limited so first come, first served!

It is relatively new and growing in leaps and bounds! We have more plans for next year and look forward to being on the map and have a lot of folks come through Ballinger for this type of community activity. We also need everyone’s help in keeping the event as free as possible so your organization donating funds or items is a HUGE help! And it takes volunteers to make it all come together!”

Torres says that a lot of volunteers and sponsors are the reason for the success and that they continue to support Hallow Fest with donations of time and money, “We are successful because of the support of so many people! I’d like to thank the following: Entities and sponsors include, but not limited to Ballinger Area of Commerce & Visitors Center, City of Ballinger, Ballinger Police Department, Ballinger Police Association, Ballinger Volunteer Fire Department, Runnels County Sheriff’s Office, KRUN 1400 AM, TAM Graphics and Tractor Supply. Volunteers make it happen! Laura Gonzales, Martha Speckels, Julie Parsons, Stanley Maresch, Justin Amaro, Cathy Martinez, Tammy Truesdell, Clemente “Tito” Mata, Jack Watkins, Michelle Watkins, Travis Walston, Dwayne Love, Steve Gray, Chad Harding, and Tyler McGrew. There are so many others and I do appreciate every one of them for their efforts and enthusiasm!

We encourage folks to come on out and join us for the fun and festivities of this growing community event! For further information, contact us at Facebook locations with the Ballinger Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center and the Ballinger Police Department. See y’all boos and ghouls out there at Hallow Fest!”