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First Contact plans 'Giddy-Up Fandango' on Saturday

First Contact Addiction Ministries is hosting a fundraising festival from 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, at Stony Brook Farms, a new event venue on 50 acres in Etowah.

“Giddy-Up Fandango” is expected to attract up to 1,200 people for family-friendly games and activities, catered food, a petting zoo, horseback rides and a fireworks show.
The outdoor and indoor event spaces offer room for social distancing between families, as well as free activities such as bonfires, live music and storytelling. Paid activities include the horseback rides, corn hole and a petting zoo from Animals-R-Us veterinary clinic, organizers said.
When the Henderson County Technical Review Committee reviewed the agency’s application for a special event permit on Oct. 6, organizer BJ Behnken said the large site would allow safe social distancing. Zoning Enforcement Director Toby Linville advised Behnken to check with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services for the rules for large gatherings.
Asked whether an outdoor gathering of 1,200 people is permitted under current state pandemic restrictions, Andrew Mundhenk, a spokesman for the Henderson County Public Health Department, referred the Lightning to state Department of Health and Human Resources and federal CDC guidelines.
“Any scenario in which people gather together poses a risk for COVID-19 transmission. This includes fall-related events in North Carolina such as outdoor activities at farms, pumpkin patches, haunted houses/trails, and agritourism events,” ” the DHHS said in an introduction to 5 pages of guidance on safely holding events. “Organizers of fall-related events should create and implement a plan to minimize the opportunity for COVID-19 transmission.”
Petting zoos pose risks “because they bring together crowds of people and animals with opportunities for close contact among them and mixing of different animals from different places,” the CDC said. “Events like these can contribute to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 from person to person but may also pose a risk of infection to certain types of animals. … More studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19.”

Sheriff’s Maj. Frank Stout, who also attended the TAC meeting, said sheriff’s deputies and the VIP (Volunteers in Partnership) squad will be on hand for traffic control.
When guests pre-register on the Ministry’s website,, they’ll
receive five free activity tickets. Prices range from $10 for adults, $5 for kids, with children 3 and under free. The event manager also guaranteed free parking to accommodate those attending the fundraiser.
Hosts and sponsors will be dressed in Western attire and guests are encouraged to do the same. Food for the event will be provided by Salty Landing, with options ranging from hotdogs to pulled-pork sandwiches. The Fandango will conclude with a professional fireworks show set to music. Benken said the goal of the event is to “create a community event that safely brings the community together for fun family time.”