The band Pure Heart performs at the annual hoedown at Legacy Baptist Church on Saturday. (Photo/Isabel Durand)
By Henry Durand
DALLAS, Ga. – There’s a good reason Legacy Baptist Church hosted an old-fashioned hoedown in modern-day Dallas on Saturday.
“It's an opportunity to love on the community,” said Rhonda Yearwood, who leads Legacy’s women's ministry.
The women's ministry organizes the annual event, which has been held every year since 2011 with the exception of last year when it was canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Amber Harrell, Yearwood's daughter, said the hoedown began at a home before being expanding to church grounds.
For Pastor Ryan Vargas, who has been at the church almost a year, it was his first hoedown. He and his family performed live music for the attendees.
The fall festival is designed to be an alternative family event with a non-Halloween theme. It's a huge undertaking for the church, requiring more than 75 volunteers to man the food booths, games, hayrides, and more.
Volunteers work in shifts, giving them time to enjoy the event with their families as well.
Yearwood said the smiles on children’s faces make the work that goes into the event worthwhile. She enjoys watching them run and play in a safe environment, knowing that their parents won't worry about them.
Yearwood explains that the hoedown provides a means to reach the community in a non-threatening way. People that may have had poor prior experiences with church feel like they can attend the festival.
“Families that might not come to the church for a sermon will come for the hoedown,” she says.
Local residents Austin and Megan Meeks attended the hoedown with their family for the first time this year, after hearing about it from a family friend. They felt it would be a good event to bring their children to and were most excited about the hayride.
Kellie Edwards has been to the hoedown before and enjoys bringing her child to a “kid-friendly atmosphere.” Her brother Neal Black agrees, saying that “anyone of any age can find something to enjoy” at the festival.
Church member Beth McIntyre, who with her son Joshua works making kettle corn, says her whole family volunteers. Her husband, James, drives one of the trucks for the hayride. During the ride a volunteer gives a fall-themed presentation of the gospel, using an illuminated pumpkin as an illustration of how Christ fills those He calls with an inner light after cleansing them of sin.
McIntyre enjoys being a part of the outreach and loves meeting new children.
“Hopefully,” she adds, “they'll come back.”