My very first ZFest was on September 13, 2020. We had talked about it for over a month in staff meetings, preparing for this big event I knew nothing about. Of course, I’ve been to other church’s fall kick offs, but the staff talked about the country theme and the strong tradition at Zion, and I didn’t really know what to expect. But, no one really knew what to expect this year! Numbers were going to be lower; we couldn’t do the “normal” games and serve home cooked meals with food for everyone, and there needed to be hand sanitizer at every game and station.
So along with it being my first ZFest, it was everyone’s first COVID-19 ZFest. And I think, without any knowledge of what it was like before, it was a big success. I loved it! Seeing the smiles in everyone’s eyes at experiencing the sense of community again was great. It gave parents the opportunity to bring their kids to a safe event and get their energy out. People gathered, safely, together to catch up and enjoy a beautiful day. And more than anything I felt like it brought hope back to the church and a sense that we can do this.
Things will be different, it will never be the same, and that’s okay! We need to start being okay with this change and ZFest showed that it can happen. Everyone was safe, kept their distance, many wore masks, and the games were fantastic and well thought out. And, though food wasn’t the same, we still offered a lunch that brought people together.
I loved getting to know more people, interact with cute little kiddos, and see confirmation students volunteer at games and setting up. Fellowship was finally happening again. I also finally got to see the country theme and witness how much fun people had wearing plaid and flannel! The bobbing for donuts and the hay ride brought so much joy to families. I enjoyed seeing the staff work and shine at something they’ve been waiting for. I went home feeling good and proud of Zion.
I hope we can carry this feeling into the fall with the knowledge that there will be bumps, things will be different, but the core of Zion will still be there. The joy and faith this community has will hold us up until we can have an even bigger ZFest next year.