What do FFA chapters do special at Halloween? If you go back in time, you will find numerous references to Halloween activities. In the August 1931 issue of The Agricultural Education Magazine the Reidville, SC FFA chapter reported they (p. 29) made “…quite a bit of money each year from their Halloween party.”
On November 2, 1934, the San Bernardino County Sun (CA) reported that the Future Farmers had a Halloween Festival. They played various games and enjoyed pumpkin pie and cider.
The Boise High School FFA hosted a school-wide costume dancing party at Halloween which the Idaho Statesman (Nov. 3, 1935) reported as a “Rollicking Affair.”
Figure 1. From the Idaho Statesman, November 2, 1935
In 1948 the Toheca FFA Chapter of Quakertown High School in Pennsylvania had a float in the local Halloween Parade (Freeh, 1949, p. 257).
About 70 years ago, FFA Executive Secretary Tenny wrote in Practical Activities for Future Farmers that FFA chapters could conduct a Halloween Masked Party. He wrote (1954, p. 289):
This party held annually at a home, at school or in a new barn. Members were required to bring a girl and be masked or pay 10 cents fine. The price of admission was 25 cents.
Well, times have changed. Today, we have FFA chapters who still do somewhat traditional Halloween events but there are some who have elevated the game. In this Friday Footnote, we will look at what a sampling of FFA chapters do at Halloween. In addition to FFA members having fun, these Halloween events can be a community service and a way to raise money.
The Haunted Swamp and Pumpkin Patch – Bishop Union High School – California
Bishop Union High School in California sponsors the Pumpkin Patch and the Haunted Swamp. The Pumpkin Patch event is held on the 88-acre school farm and is open to the community. It is a fundraiser and community service Some of the activities include pony rides, hayrides, food and bake sales, face painting, petting zoo, guess what the pumpkin weighs, and all types of carnival-like games. Over 40 varieties of pumpkins are for sale. If you buy the pink princess pumpkins some of the money is donated to the breast cancer alliance.
Figure 2. Advertising for the Bishop FFA Pumpkin Patch and Haunted Swamp from 2018.
Figure 3. The Bishop FFA Pumpkin Patch. The pumpkins are grown elsewhere, and students gather them and bring them to the school farm.
Figure 4. Going on a Hay Ride (couch ride?) at the Bishop Pumpkin Patch event
Figure 5. Students preparing the Haunted Swamp
To see more photos and videos of these events visit the Bishop FFA Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Bishop-FFA-171032102954880.
Halloween on the Farm – McNeil High School – Texas
Laura Rivera writes in the McNeil High School Trailblazer Student News Site (October 22, 2021):
The annual celebration of Halloween on the Farm offers students the chance to meet the FFA department and its animals. The event also allows incoming students and underclassmen to meet the various clubs and organizations the campus offers.
Besides providing information for future FFA students, Halloween on the Farm offers a variety of Halloween-themed activities and contests that everyone can participate in.
“We have a costume contest, there’s Halloween music playing, all the different groups have little candy booths and they’ll play games and stuff with the kids,” deMasi [the FFA Advisor] said.
Incoming students and underclassmen are strongly encouraged by FFA members to come in order to become acquainted with the programs, and as a whole, enjoy the activities.
Figure 6 – Advertisement for the Halloween event, McNeil High School, Round Rock, TX.
Legends of the Fog – North Harford High School – Maryland
The Legends of the Fog is a commercial Halloween venue in Aberdeen, Maryland. It claims to be the scariest haunted attraction in the area. There is a haunted hayride, the Farewell Hotel, the haunted corn maze, and the Slaughterhouse. About 100 acres of the 600 acres of the Barberry sod farm is devoted to this Halloween enterprise. It operates from October 1 through November 6 and takes more than 100 actors to stage. It takes about 90 minutes to experience the entire attraction. Over 12,000 people visit the attraction yearly.
Figure 7. Advertising for Legends of the Fog
So, what does the North Harford FFA have to do with Legends of the Fog? One of the agriculture teachers, Erika Edwards, tells me:
Our FFA chapter began collaboration with Legends of the Fog in 2017. Annually, they offer an opportunity for groups to advertise their attraction while also providing a discounted rate for admission. We receive 20% of every ticket sold using our unique code. Our officer team also plans a social event for our members to attend all the same day to network and build relationships with one another.
The FFA alumni help promote the use of the promotional code. It doesn’t take long for the 20% ticket commission to add up and this doesn’t require the intensive labor of some fundraising activities.
Pet Halloween Costume Contest & Trunk or Treat Party – Maconaquah High School – Indiana
Last week the Maconaquah FFA held a Halloween event in the school parking lot. From looking at the pictures on Facebook it appears it was a fun event for FFA members and guests. Prizes were given for best costumes, pets, and trunks. If you are not familiar with the phrase “trunk or treat” it is when people decorate the back of their cars, load up the candy, sit in a parking lot, and have kids trick or treat from car-to-car.
Figure 8. A panoramic view of the trunk or treat activity at Maconaquah High School. The line of cars have goodies in the trunk.
Figure 9. An entry in the pet contest.
Figure 10. The Haunted Bus feature. Who knows what evil lurks inside?
Figures 11 & 12. Advertising for the Maconaquah Halloween events.
Now is the time to start planning the Halloween event for next year. The event can be a fun activity for members, or a fundraiser, or a recruitment activity, or a public relations event, or an educational venture, or all of the above. The secret is to involve students.
I realize there are hundreds of FFA chapters that conduct similar Halloween activities. I selected these four as representative samples. Feel free to share what your chapter does with the profession.
In selecting these four FFA chapters I relied heavily on a Google search. If I didn’t find your chapter you might think about your social media presence. Is it what it should be? I found numerous chapter websites that used the AET (Agricultural Experience Tracker) shell, but they were lacking content. We really should work on our social media presence. After all, don’t most FFA chapters have a Reporter?
In my formative years, I learned a Vacation Bible School song about letting your light shine. You don’t want to hide your light under a bushel. We need to let our agricultural education and FFA lights shine.
F.F.A. of Reidville, South Carolina, Has Good Program (1931). The Agricultural Education Magazine. Volume 4, Issue 2.
Freeh, Joseph (1949). Square dancing – a Natural for F. F.A. Recreation. The Agricultural Education Magazine. Volume 21, Issue 11.
Tenny, A. W. (1954). Practical Activities for Future Farmers. Interstate Publishers: Danville, IL.