More than 12,000 attended Fort Riley's Fall Apple Day festival Sept. 23 at Fort Riley, Kansas.
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Members of the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard perform saber drills during a performance for attendees of the Fall Apple Day festival Artillery Parade Sept. 23. Soldiers of CGMCG dress in period attire and use functioning replica sabers, pis... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
More than 12,000 attended Fort Riley's Fall Apple Day festival Sept. 23 at Fort Riley, Kansas.
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
More than 12,000 attended Fort Riley's Fall Apple Day festival Sept. 23 at Fort Riley, Kansas.
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT RILEY, Kan. -- Seven-year-old Julian McCormick was in full swing at the bungee jump event when his mother, Rachel McCormick, a physical therapy assistant for Irwin Army Community Hospital, shouted, "Do a flip Julian."

"No," he shouted back. "I'm already scared enough as it is!"

Julian was in no real danger; it was just a thrill at Fall Apple Day. The event set an attendance record for the festival. The final attendance figure was 12,466, according to Randi Hamden, operations chief for the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.

The main community engagement event of the year for the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley, Fall Apple Day 2017, again served as an open house for citizens to come see their Army.

But it didn't happen overnight. It required months of planning.

Aircraft and combat equipment for static displays began arriving Sept. 21. By Sept. 22, the infrastructure -- including aircraft and combat vehicles for the 1st Infantry Division static displays -- was in place, security personnel were on site to protect assets and all that was missing were the visitors, the safety of whom was a key topic.

"We want to make sure we are very clear on all the safety aspects of this event," Hamden told personnel Sept. 20.

The Fort Riley Garrison Safety Office stressed the importance of a variety of concerns as thousands of people were about to come to the post.

"First and foremost are heat injuries," said Dawn Douglas, Safety and Occupational Health specialist for the safety office. "The temperature is projected to be 91 degrees. We are recommending hydrating as much as possible during the day of festivities."

Many booths were giving away free water bottles, including the safety personnel, Douglas said. "And there was potable water available."

Other concerns included preventing personal injuries, especially around Army equipment, lost children and vehicle accidents, Douglas said.

Advance preparation was also needed by Family Readiness Groups selling food and beverages.

According to Eric Zenk, outreach branch specialist for the Army Community Service Outreach Program, "the Family Readiness Groups began this process in June with the drawing of random numbers to determine the order that each participating FRG will select their food items."

Zenk added FRG leaders must recruit volunteers from their unit to participate in the planning, purchasing items and setup of their FRG food booths and the serving of the menu items.

"Other volunteers help with administrative tasks such fund raising approval, ensuring volunteers complete the food handler's certification course, organizing of movement of supplies and equipment to Artillery Parade Field and ensuring the unit informal funds custodian is on site to manage monetary transactions the day of the festival," Zenk said.

Besides the food tents, a popular stop was the laser firing and paint ball tent sponsored and set up by personnel from the Training Support Center of DPTMS. It was a combination of challenging fun and a demonstration of what the training technology is like, said Troy Brocksmith, a training instructor for the TSC.

"We work with training devices and simulations," Brocksmith said. "This is some of the simulations that we have with the paint ball, and with the laser it shows what the MILES (multiple integrated laser engagement system) system can be used for."

The MILES is a cost-effective, non-lethal method of training Soldiers for actual combat conditions.

The Fall Apple Day festival drew folks from nearby and, at least in one instance, from Willard, Missouri, a few miles northwest of Springfield, Missouri. A large group of students from the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps at Willard High School came out to the festival.

"One of our sponsors is retired Navy captain Steve Burnett," said JROTC commander Tory Butler. "And every year he calls bases, Army bases and Air Force, and says 'hey we have a JROTC group that we want to get out there and get experience with the military.' Last year (Fall Apple Day 2016) he found out that there was a family day (at Fort Riley), so last year was our first time out here and it was a huge hit."