The Chapel of the Cross’s A Day in the Country will be back in-person on Saturday, Oct. 2, for the 42nd annual year after being virtual last year.
Last year, the event had been planned, however preparations hadn’t been started by the time the vestry decided to move to an all virtual event. The church was able to adjust to allow people to pre-order items online and hosted a drive thru pick up on the original date of the 2020 A Day in the Country. This year, the event will be back on the church grounds for in-person fun.
“This year, we’re almost back to normal, but there will be a few adjustments and not as many menu options as normal,” Lauren Bain, chairman of the event said.
In an effort to try and lower the risk of contamination and spread, there will be no red beans and rice or gumbo to avoid everyone scooping their food out of the same container. There will also be no beer or wine tastings.
The event always has a kid’s area that provides a variety of activities including inflatable jump houses, face paint and pony rides. This year, to control the amount of children allowed to play at a time, the jump houses will be replaced with inflatable slides. Additionally, there will be no hay rides or guided chapel tours. Only one aspect of the event will remain virtual.
“Our silent auction will remain virtual, even in years to come,” Bain said.
There will still be second-hand items for sale, plenty of vendors, music, and a country store full of canned goods and fresh loaves of bread.
“We have a bread baking guild who makes a bunch of different delicious loaves from cinnamon sugar swirl to black olive mozzarella to jalapeno cheddar,” Bain said.
The annual 5k will take place at 8 a.m. with all other activities beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 4 pm. Everything will take place on the church grounds at 674 Mannsdale Road in Madison.
To sign up for the 5k, visit https://raceroster.com/events/2021/50047/a-day-in-the-country-5k. Registration is $25 through Sept. 30 and $30 on Oct. 1. A fun run is also available for $10. Packets can be picked up prior to the race at Fleet Feet in Ridgeland on Oct. 1 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Winners will receive a free 63 Egg Cake, which will be for sale during the day. The cake won the blue ribbon at the first Mississippi State Fair.
Reverend Ben G. Robertson IV said he is most looking forward to seeing all the guests come back to the church grounds.
“I stand at the entrance for most of the day and welcome folks as they arrive and thank them as they leave,” Robertson said. “Hospitality and welcome is very important to the chapel and I love witnessing folks’ fun and fellowship.”
Parking for the event will be $5 and admission is free. The church is anticipating over 10,000 guests to attend the event. Robertson said there aren’t words to describe how excited he is to welcome back everyone after a virtual year.
“The Chapel loves Day in the Country, and we love welcoming our friends and neighbors to this holy place,” Robertson said. “We missed it last year, and we are so happy for A Day in the Country to be back.”
Despite the adjustments, the event is expected to be a time of fun and community as it has been for 42 years after the event began in 1979 to revive Chapel of the Cross. The church had been abandoned in 1904 due to a decline caused by the Civil War. The community used A Day in the Country to raise money to rally the church back to life with the help of a $50,000 grant from the US Department of the Interior. The church became an official parish again in 1985. The event is still used as a fundraiser for the church.
“We have continued the tradition,” Bain said. “We want to welcome the community with open arms and show that, as Christians, we welcome one and all. We now use the money towards servant ministries.”
Even last year with the virtual silent auction, the church was able to raise over $12,000 to keep their outreach ministries running.
Bain encourages the community to come and learn about the history of the church and have a great time with their neighbors.
“Come and just get to know each other,” Bain said. “We have a lot of new people that come each year to A Day in the Country and that’s what makes them feel like the Chapel of the Cross could become their home.”
Robertson said an additional reason to come this year is to see the church’s new sanctuary, Chapel of the Resurrection, a larger space for worship. Tours will be available during the event.