Festival features fall fun for all
Joshua Ace, Co. A, 1st Bn., 28th Inf. Regt., right, helps Cole Smith, 2, left, stabilize a weapon before shooting at the Laser Range at Sturgis Stadium during the Oct. 5 FADF. Smith is the son of Capt. Charles Smith, 2nd Bn., 32nd FA Regt. Photo by: Flavia Hulsey, POST.
Story by: Flavia Hulsey
Editor, The Post
A crisp and chilly fall day could not keep visitors away from Fort Riley's Fall Apple Day Festival Oct. 5. About 7,500 visitors bundled up to see the sites at Artillery Parade Field.
"Overall, the event went very well, and we have heard many positive remarks about the event, even though it was a bit chilly," said Caite Kendrick, recreation program manager, Special Events, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
One spectator who braved the breezy afternoon was Allie Helm, Glendale, Ariz., mother of Jared Boice, a 1st Infantry Division Soldier stationed at Fort Riley.
"Yippee," Helm exclaimed after shooting an automatic weapon at the Laser Range, located at Sturgis Stadium.
"I liked looking at the equipment that my son used in Iraq and Afghanistan," she said of the weapons and static vehicle displays. "You actually see, instead of just hear, what he is telling you. So, I like going through that to understand where he's actually at."
Although Helm had visited her son at Fort Riley before, this was her first visit to the festival.
"This is great for the community," she said. "I hope more people come out to see what our Soldiers do."
Helm said she is very proud of her son's service – her phone ringer even belted out "American Soldier" by Toby Keith, shortly after she fired weapons.
"We're a big service Family, so I love this," she said.
Across the parade field, a veteran festival attendee and participant also said she enjoyed the day's events.
"It is Fort Riley's only open house and opportunity to showcase its equipment and organizations that make up the 'Big Red One' to the community," said Brenda Werner, military spouse, and president of the Historical and Archaeological Society of Fort Riley. "It is important to allow the community to learn about the Soldiers and Families of Fort Riley and continue to develop that unique relationship found nowhere else on earth."
Werner has been attending the festival for the last five years and has volunteered with HASFR for the last four.
"Well, truth be known, our pies and the museum's re-enactors are the reason for Apple Days to begin with. For 28 years now, HASFR has been making apple pies. (The festival) started with a lot smaller numbers, and the re-enactors were on the (Cavalry) Parade Field," she said. "Now, it is bigger, and the focus is on all the other things available, which is great, but HASFR knows how it all began."
Among other attractions available at this year's festival were demonstrations by the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard, military working dogs and Explosive Ordnance Battalion. Additionally, Family readiness groups sold food and drinks; inflatables, rides and a petting zoo entertained children; and the Fort Riley Army Spouses Choir and the band, Invisible Bike, rocked the main stage.
"As usual, the favorites included the CGMCG demonstrations and the laser range, but the human spheres were my favorite new attraction," Kendrick said. "It was great to see all the Families out enjoying the attractions, the great food and learning about the history and operations of Fort Riley."