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Fall Fest was held at Fort Detrick's Nallin Pond Recreation Area Oct. 20, and the event, hosted by Fort Detrick Garrison Commander Col. Allan J. Darden, Sr. and the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Directorate, saw more than 500 people come out to enjoy a day of activities that were designed to promote awareness of the Exceptional Family Member Program and to have an enjoy a day of social interaction, community bonding, and fun.

The program was designed by Crystal Snyder, Michelle Hewitt, Freda Darden, Daniele McKnight, Andrew Jahn, Rodger Knepper, Judy McKnight, and Terry Baker.

Two events got the day rolling. The first was the signing of the Army Family Covenant. The second was the official opening of the handicap accessible fishing pier.

The Director of Family and MWR, Deborah Daubenhauser, said, "The fishing pier ribbon cutting brought tears to my eyes for the recognition for Jake Watson whom I know personally and who suggested its construction through the Army Family Action Plan." The ribbon cutting was performed by Darden, Command Sgt. Maj. Cassandra Redd, USAG Fort Detrick Command Sgt. Maj., Daubenhauser, and Bennett Rogge. After the ceremony Darden presented trophies and prizes to the morning fishing, chili, and golf driving contests.

This year's Fall Fest included information booths for people to browse to learn about safety, conservation, and environmental protection and stewardship, and about programs and services offered by the Army Community Services and the Exceptional Family Member Program, and resources available within Frederick County area and local schools.

There was something going all the time including free fishing and golf driving, face painting, food and music, games, a photo booth, pony rides, many give-a-ways, and field games like Geo Cache and a Team Mini-Mudder.

A special treat of the day was having the Fort Detrick Fire and Emergency Services on site to interact with children to teach them how to escape from a fire, and to see a live demonstration of fire fighting capabilities with a fire engine. Children were thrilled and excited to talk to the fire fighters and while they did so they learned important life-saving tips all while having fun.

Child and Youth Services brought to the program offers of free popcorn and cotton candy, a children's game corner, and the Geo Cache contest developed by Michael Schmadel. Kudos to the entire Community Activities Center staff for providing a great menu of hamburgers and Sloppy Joe sandwiches, hot dogs, bratwursts, barbecued ribs, fried chicken, potato salad, chips, ice cream, cookies, and candied apples and beverages. The chef, Charles Welte, worked hard to make this the best food ever served at an event and on the barbeque grill all day, but said he had, "great fun seeing everyone coming back for more!"

Andrew Jahn said, "having so many people attend and enjoy the event is always worth the hard work."

Family and MWR's NAF Support Division stood up inflatable bounces, canopies and tables, and set up the Team Mini-Mudder course while the Marketing Office did a fantastic job to advertise the event, obtain sponsorships, and to provide signage for program events.

Special thanks must be give to all the sponsors supported the event. They through their generosity and community support helped make the event a success:

COMSTAR Federal Credit Union

Johns Hopkins Family Health Plan

AT&T

SoldierFit

Rita's

Costco

Community recreation services were managed by Danniele McKnight who contracted vendors and developed contest rules, awards, and prizes. Appreciation must be given to the many people at the Directorate of Public Works who processed service requests, connected electrical service for the stage, provided trash and recycling containers, and providing barriers, tires, rope, and soil to field the Mini-Mudder Course.

Fall Fest is an example of how well the community pulls together. This behind the scene work is essential to event management and we at Fort Detrick are fortunate to have this talent to draw upon.

Darden stated that, "the garrison team really came through...for our first combined Fall Fest."

"I was not surprised as I have always known [they] have what it takes to do great things. More important than what I say, were the many comments I received from family members. They were very happy and grateful for the Fall Fest-and they really had fun! This is what it is all about," he said.

Daubenhauser, who was elated by the outcome of Fall Fest, stated to her Family and MWR staff, "the event was spectacular and everyone stepped up to the table and got the job done. The true meaning of our garrison motto 'One Team. One Mission.' was truly demonstrated everywhere that you looked."

She said, "we tried things at this event that the Fort Detrick Community has never experienced. I know that each of you had a family and other things that you would rather have been doing, but without any hesitation you and all of our Family & MWR Family met the mission at hand."