Fall family fun — also known as CornFest — kicked off Friday.

“The corn is pretty good,” said Tate Gates. “The funnel cake is good, too.”

This year’s two-day CornFest offered a midway of games, cornhole competition, food, a Pumpkin Patch and Kids Zone with six bounce houses, pony rides, a petting zoo, a 7,500 square foot Scare Zone, vendor shopping, live entertainment and a beer garden for adults, all housed at Gary Keith Civic Center Park at the corner of Marina Boulevard and Highway 95.

Gates and Serenity Pena — celebrating her eighth birthday on CornFest’s opening day — enjoyed the sweet corn, face painting and other attractions at CornFest.

“We’re here to have fun and see what’s going on,” Gates said. “It’s a good turnout.” 

Maranda Abidin brought her 3-year-old son, Bryce, to explore the petting zoo.

“We enjoy visiting local events,” Abidin said. “We’ve been having fun.”

Kiwanis Club of the Colorado River brought the event back last year for a single day in order to gauge community interest. About 10,000 people attended. 

“We had a great response last year and we worked hard to keep the costs low on kids events this year,” CornFest chairman Ken Sondgeroth said. “It’s a good fall event and fun for a family to do.”

Now a two-day event, organizers anticipated attendance this year would reach 20,000.

Food vendors included The Hut, Diddy’s River Shack and the Mohave High School Culinary Arts program, selling baked goods. Fort Mojave Indian Tribe supplied expert Indian fry bread makers.

“We had to start saying no, we couldn’t accommodate any more vendors,” said Maria Pynakker, outreach coordinator for Living Waters Hospice, CornFest sponsor. “It’s very exciting.”

Among the 46 vendors of clothing, decor, home services and more, Trinity Villegas, a fifth grade Desert Star Academy student and entrepreneur, ran her first event booth selling Smart Slimes, jar slime toys she creates at home.

Trinity said her cousin taught her to make toy slime and she enjoyed it so much she started making — and concocting — recipes of her own, including metallics and other ingredients resulting in named products such as Cloud Slime, Butter Slime and Sea Sparkle Slime. 

“I’ve been selling it at school so I could purchase my own supplies,” Villegas said. 

Trinity’s mother, Yolanda, said, “She bought her own laptop last year for school. It’s hard to see how it could go up from there.”

In addition to offering family fun, CornFest serves as a fundraiser for community groups and schools.

“Game booths were primarily operated by youth groups to raise money for things like sports equipment, choir robes, whatever they need,” Sondgeroth said. “It teaches the kids to work and get a reward back.”

The 20 game booths offered Balloon Pop, Plinko, Ring Toss, Tic Tac Toe, a fishing game, Frisbee golf, zombie bowling and more, benefiting groups such as Mohave Wrestling, Mohave High School Choir, Young Scholar’s Academy PTO, BHC Middle School Student Council, Diamondback Elementary, Tri-City Venom, River Valley High School girls soccer and football teams, Boy Scout Unit 104, Desert Star Academy, Tri-City Soccer, Montessori Prep Academy and Builders Club.

Last year each group raised about $800 and organizers hope this year’s two-day event will double the money raised.

“Our sponsors have been great,” Sondgeroth said. “Living Waters Hospice, our sponsor, Anderson Ford, who sponsored the Cornhole Competition and beer garden and Desert Lawn, who sponsored one of the finest Scare Zones around.” 

Praise Chapel rented the event the tents, raising funds for its church, Sondgeroth said. 

Wakimoto Farms donated the Kiwanis sweet corn and leftover corn was donated to Praise Chapel’s Food for Families program.

“The money stays right here in this community,” Sondgeroth said. “The money Kiwanis raises is used to fund high school scholarships, grants to teachers and 10 percent of our net proceeds come back to Gary Keith Park to make it better.”

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