By Debbie Adams
The Vinton Dogwood Festival is introducing a new activity during its 67th annual event – a “Teen Space,” to be located in the area of the Municipal Building and the Farmburguesa restaurant on Pollard Street. Visitors are welcome from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 30.
Mineral Springs Baptist Church is hosting the new attraction. The pastor, Joe Gault, says the “Wow!” feature that will draw the crowds is a 24-foot rock climbing wall rented from AAA Entertainment. The wall can accommodate three teens at a time (with harnesses). Plans are for the wall to be located either in the grassy lot next to the Farmburguesa restaurant or in the other grassy area to the left of the Municipal Building, depending upon space requirements once it arrives.
Mineral Springs Baptist members, who usually sponsor and facilitate the Kids Zone at the Dogwood Festival, have switched their focus this year from young children to the youth – at the request of the Dogwood Festival Committee who saw a need to engage this particular age group, who are often neglected at events of this type.
“Teen Space” has become a cooperative effort between the Festival Committee and Mineral Springs Baptist. Both have participated in the planning and funding. Pastor Gault has taken the lead on the new concept, assisted by Associate Pastor Patrick Speight and Mary Beth Layman from the Dogwood Committee. Volunteers from Mineral Springs will be in charge on site on Festival Day.
In addition to the enormous climbing wall, the Teen Space also includes an “Escape Room,” a trendy new concept (there’s one at Valley View Mall) and the brainchild of Gault. Members of the church have built two walls at their church which will join the other two walls already in place in the alcove at the front of the Municipal Building to form the room.
When teens enter the Escape Room, they will immerse themselves in the narrative and experience and use various clues to solve a murder mystery. Groups of five or six will enter the enclosure at one time and will receive scenarios, hints, clues, puzzles, riddles, and more to help them solve the mystery. There will be an actor stationed inside to assist.
The murder mystery is geared toward teens. Parents will be able to observe from outside with a monitor.
The experience will last about 15-20 minutes. Groups can register ahead of time and then will be given a 15-minute warning that their turn is coming up – like being on a Wait List. This will hopefully reduce congestion in the Municipal Building area.
If that’s not enough to draw a crowd, the Teen Space will also include game consoles (Nintendo, Sega, etc.) on tables in the drive-through area next to the Municipal Building. Youth can compete, even against parents. Scores will be recorded throughout the day with prizes at the end for the highest scores.
Pastor Gault says Mineral Springs Baptist hopes to serve the community, especially its youth, with this year’s new Teen Space. Members hope the teenagers have a thoroughly great time. He says this was not just a team effort, but a churchwide effort to plan, organize, and facilitate a special place for teens with a variety of interests.