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Spring fling: New Hope Christian Fellowship hosts spring celebration

A couple of months ago Mike Barnett started to notice his parishioners getting a little antsy. They were tired of snow. Tired of cold. They wanted to get out in the sunshine.

That's when Barnett, senior pastor at New Heights Christian Fellowship, decided to throw a party.

The fruits of that moment of inspiration will be on display May 17 and 18 at the downtown Farmington church. The two-day New Growth Spring Festival, a first-time event for New Heights, will feature carnival games, a silent auction and a chili cookoff, among other activities.

"People were just tired of winter and they were getting depressed and tired and moody," Barnett said. "The overarching theme of those two days is, we want to celebrate spring and something to look forward to.

"We just want to invite the community to have good, healthy, clean fun."

The New Growth festival will be split into two distinct days. The first day will feature carnival games including a giant slide and an inflatable jumper, bake and plant sales and a dunk tank, among other things. There will be a $5 admission charge, but all proceeds will go toward the church's Pakistan mission project.

There will also be a silent auction Saturday.

There will not be any charge on Sunday, and the day will be all about family-friendly fun. Sunday will feature a chili cook-off with categories such as hottest, sweetest, most like Heaven and most like Hell. There will be a pie-eating contest and a no-hands finger painting contest as well as an egg toss, popcorn relay and hula hoop pass.

The church will also attempt to fill its sanctuary with people Sunday. At first, Barnett agreed to shave his head if at least 200 people walked through the door Sunday. Then he decided that didn't go far enough.

"I wear my hair pretty short anyway," he said.

So, Barnett upped the ante. Now, he said he'll shave his head and paint a flower on his bare skull, then keep it there one hour for everyone who files into the church sanctuary Sunday morning.

"If 300 people walk through the door I'll have to wear the flower on my head for about 13 days," Barnett said.

If the prospect of pie-eating contests and crab walk relays sounds a little old-fashioned, well, that's kind of the idea. Barnett said he liked the idea of families getting together and having a good time without "gizmos or gadgets."

"It's kind of a throwback to what churches used to do a long time ago, but churches have more money and resources now than they did 50 years ago so they can do things at a more professional level," Barnett said. "The congregation's pretty excited about it. That's just it. The whole event came about as, 'Let's have fun.'"