Fall Festival Then and Now

Fall Festival is an iconic tradition that is beloved by students, staff, faculty, and parents. The mere mention of Fall Festival to alumni sparks many stories. Hearing from alumni who speak passionately about their Fall Festival memories and experiences as if it was yesterday, but in fact was sometimes more than a decade ago, speaks volumes about its impact on our community. But what do we know about its origins and how the tradition transformed over the years?

For its 43rd year (wow!), we took a deep dive into the archives and spoke with Carroll staff and faculty to find out how Fall Festival got started in the first place and what makes it so special. Along the way, we heard some pretty amazing stories. Here’s what we found out from Larry Brown, Mike Kmetz, Allison West, Sue Kingman, Shea Schatell, Becka Hitchcock, Paul Loiselle, Kitty Mahin, Mary Roberts, Donna Brown, and Naomi Hitchcock.

When was the first Fall Festival?

1979 - That makes this year’s Fall Festival the 43rd!

Whose idea was it?

Its creation was a team effort from what was then called the Arts Team, consisting of Maureen Casey (art), Gerry Wile (woodshop), and Larry Brown (PE). Gerry would go on to teach 5th grade and lead the 5th grade team. Larry Brown would go on to become leader of the Carroll High School and then the Middle School Division Head.

What did the first Fall Festivals look like?

Its beginning was simple. The idea was to celebrate our community through an event reminiscent of a New England fair. Activities in those early years included sack races, three-legged races, art projects, bobbing for apples (grab apples floating in a bucket of water without the use of hands), cider making (initially with an old wine press, replaced by a cider press made in the woodshop by students), homemade donuts, and a haunted house in our bomb shelter on the Lincoln campus.

How has Fall Festival evolved?

As the school grew in size, activities were added each year. Ted Mamet became the organizer and mastermind of Fall Festival in the early 1980's. He was supported by Mike Kmetz in the mid-1980's and together, they introduced archery, face painting, climbing a greased pole, log cutting, tug-of-war, “fun run”, candy/pumpkin guesses, chicken toss, hayrides, bluegrass music performed by Mr. Wile and his friends, bubbles, making ice cream and caramel apples, hot dogs, trike races, obstacle course, and so much more.

What's the most popular and talked about activity you may wonder? Hands down ... making pickles! Many alumni still reach out to ask for the pickle recipe, which we discovered is a family recipe given to Ted from the then head of Buildings and Grounds, Mike Tlumacki, who swore Ted to secrecy. Mike Kmetz has kept the tradition alive and the pickle recipe has yet to be disclosed.

Coach Kmetz carries on the tradition to this day, maintaining the activities that students have come to love while adding fun new activities such as slime making, bouncy houses, art activities, and more. Over the years, faculty members and parents have joined Mike to help make Fall Festival an unforgettable day.

What are some activities that have withstood the test of time? And which have we moved away from?

Activities that have become rooted at Fall Festival are chicken toss, candy/pumpkin guesses, face painting, archery, and PICKLES!

Some that we've let go over the years are the bomb shelter haunted house (for safety reasons), log cutting (hard to believe we ever did this!), tug-o-war (rope burns ... ouch!), greased pole climb (way too messy), fun run (too many students now; plus, Coach Kmetz is the only one who really wants to run it!).

Why is Fall Festival so important to our community?

Allison West said it best, "It brings us all together and holds us in a space of such JOY and FUN!"

Give us the scoop ... what are some of the behind-the-scenes fun facts?

PICKLES: The pickles are actually called MT Pickles in honor of Mike Tulmacki. Here’s the story: Ted Mamet saw a big jar of pickles in the fridge on campus and helped himself to one. It was the best pickle he’d ever had, so he kept going back for more. Mike finally chimed in and asked why Ted was eating all his pickles. Ted hadn’t known that they were Mike’s and when he found out Mike made them he begged for the recipe. Mike let Ted know it was a secret family recipe that he was willing to share only if Ted promised to keep it a secret - which he did. Now Mike Kmetz is the keeper of the recipe. The Carroll pickle legend lives.

WHO CUTS THE CUCUMBERS: Yep, they don’t cut themselves! It’s all hands on deck, including PA volunteers, but Mary Roberts is by far the champion slicer.

FUN RUN: Yes, there used to be a Fun Run/Race at Fall Festival and everyone participated. Some ran, some walked. The course is now Carroll's cross country course.

CHICKEN TOSS: Every year Ted Mamet and Mike Kmetz would ask students how they liked the activities and if they had ideas for new ones. A 4th grade student chimed in that she’d like to have a chicken toss. Ted and Mike looked at each other and thought, "Yeah, we’re doing that." Once they got the details from the student (Mike doesn’t remember who it was), it became an instant hit. Let us know if you’re the alum who had the idea!

Which faculty are the most into it?

Everyone says the same thing - Mike Kmetz. Though everyone gets excited for it each year, no one can match Coach Kmetz's enthusiasm and love for Fall Festival.

Fall Festival Photos through the Years

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