Looking for more fun than fright for your trick-or-treaters? The Mansfield Police Department’s annual Fall Festival is for you.Police officers realize that kids may still hit the streets on Halloween -- that’s where the officers will be, after all -- but the festival offers them an alternative to going door to door and lets parents do a run-through with costumes and candy, said Brandi Howard, the police officer who organizes the event. “When they come out there, it’s a safe place,” Howard said. “It’s a way to teach kids about what candy is safe. It’s a learning curve.”And the Fall Festival is a safe place to learn, she said.“We never have any problems,” said Howard, who plans to have more than two dozen officers at Newsom Stadium for the event. Some of those officers will be in uniform, others will be undercover and some will be wearing costumes, like Wile E. Coyote, Bugs Bunny or McGruff the Crime Dog.But they won’t be the only ones in costumes. Howard expects 3,000 to 5,000 people to jump in the bounce houses, go on the hayride, ride the ponies, chow down on a corny dog and compete for prizes and candy. Actually, there’s not a lot of competition -- 38 vendors will have carnival games that guarantee a prize. “Ages 4 to 10 enjoy it the most because of all the bounce houses and the hay ride,” said John Pressley, a member of the Knights of Columbus, which has had a booth at the festival since it began more than a decade ago. “They are old enough to understand it.”The Knights of Columbus, who will be selling sausage on a stick and hamburgers, participate as a community service, Pressley said. The festival also helps the police.“We love doing it,” Howard said. “It’s a way for us to interact with children on a positive note.”Admission to the festival and almost all of the activities are free. Bring money for the hayride -- which features characters from children’s books and musicals -- along with pony rides, train rides and food.
Amanda Rogers, 817-473-4451 Twitter: @AmandaRogersNM