By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterMarch 29, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- More than 10,000 eggs were up for grabs as hundreds made their way to the festival fields March 24 to get in a little bit of early Easter fun.
Fort Rucker hosted its annual Children's Festival where families came to enjoy food, fun, games, rides and even have a visit with the Easter Bunny.
During the event, children of all ages were invited to take part in one of the largest Easter egg hunts in the area, and snatch up their chance to find not only candy and treats in each egg, but prize tickets that could be redeemed for age-appropriate goodies.
For many family members, it was the excitement of the hunt that had their children raring to go.
"It's nice to be able to come out and have an (Easter egg hunt) with this many people," said Jalisa Walters, civilian from Ozark. "My family and I come out here every year because my children love chasing after these eggs. Before I know it, they will be too old to want to do this stuff, so I'm going to take advantage of it while I can."
Walters brought her two children, Jaime and Devon, aged 11 and 7, and said the Easter egg hunt is the activity they look forward to the most.
"I really like chasing after the eggs and seeing what I get inside," said Jaime. "I think I got at least 20 eggs. We had to really run to get as many as we could."
"The kids have a great time every year and I absolutely love bringing them out here," added Walters. "I wouldn't want to spend a Saturday any other way."
For other family members, the thrill of the hunt can be a bit overwhelming, so other activities, like the petting zoo and the pony rides were more up their alley.
The festival featured a full-fledged petting zoo, complete with familiar barnyard animals, like goats and donkeys, to more exotic creatures, like llamas and Patagonian maras, which had Emily Stallworth, military spouse, and her family giddy with excitement.
"We've really been enjoying ourselves," said Stallworth. "(My son), Braden, is just having the time of his life. There are so many animals here that he just can't contain himself. I keep telling him to calm down because I don't want him to frighten any of the animals, but he is just too excited -- I love it.
"He loves that he can feed the animals and pet them," she continued. "I think we've spent most of our time over right here (at the petting zoo) because he doesn't want to do anything else."
In addition to the petting zoo, families were able to enjoy bouncing in inflatables, taking a ride on the trackless train or even trying their hand at the Warrant Officer Career College obstacle course, complete with wall climb and rope swing.
After people had their fill of fun, they were able to fill their stomachs with their favorite fair foods, ranging from funnel cakes, cotton candy, candy apples and other fare.
"The Children's Festival provides an outlet to eat great food and spend some time having fun," said Lynn Avila, Fort Rucker special events coordinator. "All our MWR programs have pulled together to create this event, and this event is designed specifically for children and celebrates the uniqueness of the military-child lifestyle."
It's that celebration that had many families appreciative of events like Children's Fest that allow them to enjoy themselves and feel like a part of the Army family.
"It's just really nice to be able to have stuff like this going on for us to all come out and enjoy, not just as a family together, but with other families, too," said Stallworth. "Being in the Army is a really unique experience, especially for children, and a lot of times it can be hard to find that normalcy, but being able to come out to events like this really makes the kids and the families feel special, so I'm extremely grateful."