NEWLAND — Fall festivals are a popular way for county elementary schools to fundraise to make ends meet for supply needs and other projects. Crossnore Elementary School hosted its annual, long-running festival on Sept. 20, Banner Elk Elementary hosted its Fall Fling Oct. 4, and Newland Elementary held its own fundraising bash on October 3.

The rear bus parking lot at Newland was paved over with inflatables and games for kids to enjoy while the inside of the school was filled with food, silent auctions and the chance to pie a teacher.

Principal Monet Samuelson said the fundraiser is split in two, with proceeds from the auctions and food sales supporting the fifth grade’s annual trip to Charleston, S.C., with the inflatables, games and booths benefiting the rest of the school.

Schools have to fundraise for supplies they are not funded for via public funds from the district. Necessities like ink and printer paper are the results of private dollars. The earnings are anticipated in the $10,000 range.

There are other small fundraisers for the Charleston trip, but Samuelson said the festival makes the bulk of the money to help reduce or completely eliminate the cost of the trip for students.

“They try to make it to where the students don’t have to pay anything,” Samuelson said.

Students take carriage rides through the historic parts of the city, visit a battleship, go on tours and take in the city’s history over the course of three days.

This is Samuelson’s first year at Newland after being transferred from Riverside Elementary.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” Samuelson said. “We’ve kind of hit the ground running. When I came in June, we’ve made some changes to the school and some signage, kind of rebranded it, and we’ve not let up since. We’ve got something going all the time and we stay really busy, but we’ve had a blast.”

Fifth graders at Riverside also took the Charleston trip while Samuelson was principal at that school.

The fair weather that has placed much of the High Country in a drought played to the festival’s advantage, with below-average rainfall and above-average temperatures for this time of year according to data from the National Weather Service.

“We’ve tried to revamp the games and make them more creative so it’s not just the status quo,” Samuelson said at the event. “I really think we’re going to have a huge turnout tonight.”

Interim Superintendent Bill Miller said these fundraisers allow the schools to do more things with their students, but the events are a fun way to show support for the community and the schools.

“It takes a whole community,” Miller said. “Certainly it provides some financial things that the schools couldn’t have otherwise.”

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