Child putting an Easter egg into his basket
The Community Easter Egg begins at 10:02 a.m. Saturday at the rodeo grounds. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The Community Easter Egg Hunt returns to Philomath this year with a new organizer in a new location and even features a new event that involves lots of mud and a $50 prize. It all happens at 10:02 a.m. Saturday rain or shine at the rodeo grounds in Skirvin Park.

The Philomath Frolic & Rodeo has taken over organizational and sponsorship duties for the Easter egg hunt. There will be the traditional hunts for toddlers up to age 12 with 10,000 candy-filled eggs in separate grass areas for each age group. And there will also be the $3 “Golden Egg Mud Hunt” for teens and adults inside the rodeo arena.

“We’re excited to continue the tradition of holding the community Easter egg hunt,” said Chris Workman, who is on the Frolic & Rodeo board and handles publicity. “The Frolic is super excited about bringing it to the rodeo grounds and our emphasis is that families with multiple children will be able to see all of their children at the same time. … they won’t be scattered from different fields and different areas.”

Workman explained that the youngest children would go first and then 5 minutes later, the next youngest group and so on, so no groups of kids are looking for eggs at the same time.

“So as a parent, you can stand and watch each of your kids go at different times and you can help different-aged kids if you need to,” Workman said. “I’ve been to a number of Easter egg hunts in my days and I’ve seen ones that worked really well and others that got too spread out and it was difficult to know where my kids were.”

In addition to the main event, there will also be some friendly folks in attendance from the Easter bunny to the Frolic & Rodeo queen.

The organizers set a very specific start time of 10:02 a.m.

“It’s just to help make it a little more memorable on the starting time,” Workman said. “There’s nothing worse than showing up to an Easter egg hunt two minutes late. If you’re two minutes late, you’ve missed it and so we’re going to start at 10:02.”

The Frolic & Rodeo expanded the event’s activities by coming up with a way for teenagers and adults to have some fun of their own through the Golden Egg Mud Hunt.

“We started looking at the age groups and it ends at age 12 so what do you do if you’re 13 or 15 or 25?” Workman said. “It really came about when Darrell Hinchberger, the Frolic president, and I were looking at the grounds to see where we could stage the Easter egg hunt for the children.”

The rodeo arena came to mind so Workman and Hinchberger got out of their vehicle and found 1 to 2 inches of standing water, which would make it too muddy for the kids.

“And I looked and I said we could put the adults out there and just do a mudfest and have them look for eggs out in the mud,” Workman laughed, “and I bet we can even charge people for it as long as the prize in the egg was more than a piece of candy with some dollars in there and whatnot. That’s where it started and we vetted it out a little bit more.”

The entry fee is $3 with part of the arena to be designated for youth ages 13-17 and another area for adults 18 and older. The organizers will place eggs in the arena, which this time of the year is covered in grass. Some will have chocolate inside, some will have $1 or $5 bills. One will even have a $50 bill inside.

The Golden Egg Mud Hunt starts at 11 a.m. at the north gate arena entrance.

The Philomath Frolic & Rodeo quickly put the program together within the past two weeks after finding out that the previous longtime organizer had no plans to continue with it.

Workman, who is on the Frolic & Rodeo board and handles publicity, said the Frolic contacted the Philomath Lions Club to gauge that organization’s interest.

“I know a lot of Frolic board members’ kids have gone to it over the years and just the community in general and so we didn’t want it to go away,” Workman said. “So we offered to the Lions Club that if they didn’t have anybody on the board that was interested in continuing with it that the Frolic would be interested in taking it back over.”

Lions Club Treasurer Tom Wright clarified that the club was never actively involved with its organization and explained that the Lions had only provided the financial means for the previous organizer to put it on.

For such events, the host organization’s financial commitment includes liability insurance, which can run in the neighborhood of $450, in addition to the candy for the eggs and so on.

“They met Wednesday afternoon at lunch and I told (member) Dale Collins to give me a call after and let me know what was decided. I looked out my window at 1:15 and saw them loading Easter eggs into the back of my truck and I had my answer,” Workman chuckled.

In addition to the Community Easter Egg Hunt, various churches also hold their own events on Sunday. Two such events that are open to the public include those planned by The Refuge church and Peace Lutheran Church.

The Refuge’s Epic Egg Hunt features 1,000-plus Easter eggs and will take place on Sunday following the church’s 11 a.m. service. The Refuge is located at 1947 College St.

Peace Lutheran Church, located at 5504 Applegate St., also invites all to its event, which will be staged following the 11:15 a.m. Easter Sunday Service.

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.