Southern Fall Festival breaks record attendance

Communications Staff — September 18, 2015

150911_8271-2 lowerA record estimated 7,000 people braved the rain to experience The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s 11th annual Fall Festival Sept. 11. Attendees entered the Imagination Station and traveled through the Telehopper into the land of Odyssey on the Seminary Lawn. The theme was based on “Adventures in Odyssey,” the Christian radio drama series created and produced by Focus on the Family.

Upon entering Odyssey, travelers saw a construction of Whit’s End. The white building with green trim sat in the middle of the lawn behind the KYDS radio stage. Behind it, guests entered a tent designed to replicate the glass structure of Whit’s End where 2,000 drinks of Wod-Fam-Choc-Sod (World-Famous-Chocolate-Soda) were served, which is a signature drink from the town of Odyssey. About 1,820 balloons were scattered throughout the event.

Guests also experienced Whit’s Pizza, donated by Papa John’s, the Odyssey Grill, with burgers from SBTS catering, and Chris’s Chicken, with sandwiches and nuggets donated by Chick-fil-A. Tyler Mountain Water donated 200 5-gallon water jugs.

The grand finale featured a live radio show recording with the cast of “Adventures in Odyssey.” Celebrating their 29th year in November, it is one of the longest-running radio dramas in the U.S. Cast members include Will Ryan, who plays Eugene Meltsner, Phil Lollar, co-creator who also plays Dale Jacobs, Andre Stojka, who plays John Avery Whittaker, and Katie Leigh, who plays Connie Kendall. The hour-long show performed classic segments from their 30-year history. Due to rain, the cast performed in Alumni Chapel.     

Lollar said it was “overwhelming” to see “Adventures in Odyssey” come to life on the seminary campus because he never would have imagined that this show would grow to become as big as it is now.

150911_8178Other attractions included seven carnival rides, fair games, and 36 inflatables that filled the Seminary Lawn and the Mullins courtyard. There was an audio booth set up for families to experience what it was like to be on the radio. Additional tents served 5,040 cans of soda, 2,500 funnel cakes, 1,500 grilled corn on the cob, 3,500 cotton candy servings, and 450 cupcakes in the cupcake contest.

Scarlet’s Bakery hosted a tent to share their signature cookie and to spread the word about their business. Opening later this fall, the bakery is affiliated with Scarlet’s Hope, a nonprofit whose mission is to serve women in the adult entertainment industry, is located at 741 E Oak St in Louisville.

Jeff Dalrymple, vice president of hospitality services, oversaw the production of Fall Festival with the help of 500 volunteers and staff to bring Odyssey to life.

“The event could not have taken place without the army of folks who worked the event,” Dalrymple said. “Event staff ranged from SBTS workers to volunteers ranging from friends and family to people from the community. Dozens of folks helped beginning Wednesday through the event Friday, and some of the clean-up is still happening a week later. Based on meal tickets, we estimated that 7,000 people attended the festival. It really does take some intense skills to make something this size a success.

150911_8141“My favorite thing was the Telehopper,” he added. “I was so impressed by the Southern Productions and Event Media team who created that Disney-esque experience. That was a highlight for me.”

More information on Southern Seminary events is available online at events.sbts.edu.

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