Community Lutheran plans annual Fall Festival & Craft Expo

This weekend, for the third time, the grounds of Community Lutheran Church, 3720 E. Tropicana Ave., will be home to a Fall Festival & Craft Expo with food, craft vendors, a silent auction and two live shows featuring dozens of performers.

"We’re going to have hot dogs, hamburgers, fried Twinkies, fried Oreos, blooming onions, all that stuff," said organizer Pam Branchini. "We’ll have a huge bakery there, too."

The festival is also set to feature an unusual fundraising device, a jail and stocks. The stocks aren’t the kind found on Wall Street. They’re the medieval punishment device made of boards with holes designed to clamp around wrists and sometimes necks. Visitors to the festival can pay to have a friend or loved one jailed or stocked and the charitably imprisoned person then has to pay his way out or convince others to do it.

Concerts scheduled at the festival include a "Broadway Babies" review at 7 p.m. Friday and an "Afternoon Delight" variety show at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Both shows are organized by Chuck Simmons, who is also set to perform.

"I belong to Community Lutheran Church, and I just seem to inherit these things," Simmons said, and then added with a laugh, "I guess I didn’t say ‘no’ loud enough and quick enough."

Simmons said people who come out for the shows are in for a treat, as they will find performers from the Strip and church choir members stepping outside the box to perform secular songs.

"We have a country and western church service every week that’s led by a group called the Honky Tonk Angels," Simmons said. "They write their own country gospel music, but at the show Friday they’ll be doing some great country and western covers."

The shows are made up of several performers and groups doing a few songs apiece. They’re rehearsing individually, and the actual performance will be the first time the show comes together as a whole.

"The people doing these acts are pretty much used to doing these things, so they’ve got their routines down," Simmons said. "All I’ve got to do as an emcee is introduce their act, and I’ve put together a finale for the Friday night show."

Both shows are benefits, and admission is a voluntary offering. The money from Saturday’s show will be split between the music ministry and the youth ministry. Proceeds from Friday’s show will go to the church’s mission in El Salvador.

"They buy medical supplies and other needed supplies for the mission," Simmons said.

Saturday’s show is set to feature not only musical acts but also variety acts, including Whitney-area marionette artist Anthony Rais and a Latin dance performance by the church’s senior pastor, Mark Wickstrom, and his wife Kristi.

"The Saturday show will have the Summerlin Women’s Dance Group," Simmons said. "These are senior gals, and they’re an absolute riot. They come out in walkers, and then they do Michael Jackson’s moonwalk."

Contact Sunrise/Whitney View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at or 380-4532.

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