After seven years of operating the pommes frites booth at the Seymour Oktoberfest, Seymour Harvest Church has decided to hand operation of the booth over to another organization.
That wound up being Enter His Courts, which offers a basketball league aimed at youth in southern Indiana.
Director Tim Goodpaster has spent the past couple of weeks gathering supplies and volunteers for the booth, which sells the french-fried potatoes with a handful of dipping sauces.
“God has a plan, and God knew that I needed funding to go into basketball leagues and reach out to everybody on the planet that I can. I really would believe that,” Goodpaster said.
He has sold fireworks for 10 years in the summer and decided to add another fundraiser. He also is president of Community Outreach for Youth, which presents school assemblies.
“A really good residual byproduct with Enter His Courts, it is not a bad thing for 30,000 people to go by and see, ‘Hey, there’s a guy that does basketball leagues and school assemblies and whatever he can to reach young people,’” Goodpaster said.
The Rev. Larry Robbins said the church started the booth as a fundraiser for mission trips. But this year, the congregation decided to let someone else take over.
“I knew that there were several people that were interested in getting a booth into the Oktoberfest,” Robbins said. “God chose Tim. It’s a blessing. It’s still God’s work.”
Robbins said it took 15 to 20 people to operate the booth daily during the three-day festival. Proceeds topped $6,000 per year.
Goodpaster said his first step was to seek volunteers to help man the booth.
He then bought 40 50-pound boxes of potatoes from Stanley Brothers Inc. in Louisville, Kentucky. Volunteers began soaking them in a salt-vinegar-water solution Monday night.
“We don’t have to peel them, praise the Lord. But boy, we’re doing some serious chopping and getting them ready,” Goodpaster said. “A lot of love goes into it.”
Once the booth opens, customers will be able to order fries with sauce, including horseradish, cheese, ketchup and ranch, and a drink.
“I think we’ve got the best product out here in terms of cost and taste value,” Goodpaster said. “For $5, you’ll get a 9-ounce cone of twice-fried fries that are awesome with all kinds of really cool sauces and a 12-ounce drink. Boy, at Oktoberfest that’s a deal.”
Goodpaster said he will use funds raised to provide scholarships for kids to play in the league and also to buy equipment. It also will help cover the expenses of speakers and bands playing during the school assemblies.
The 27th year of the Enter His Courts basketball league will start in mid-January and run through February. For the past 18 years, Goodpaster said he has averaged 800 people ages 5 to 22 on more than 100 teams. The league draws kids from several area counties who play games on Saturdays in gymnasiums in Seymour, Brownstown, Vallonia and North Vernon.
“In Indiana, basketball is God to so many,” Goodpaster said. We just use it to show them who God really is. Parents really love and appreciate the fact that we take the crush, kill, win, destroy out and have great competition. We love on their kids, and their kids walk out of there encouraged.”
For several years, Goodpaster said, college students who grew up playing in the league return to participate.
“That says a lot about what God is doing,” he said. “We make it fun for them.”
Also, since 2000, a men’s league has been offered in March.
Goodpaster is about to begin his 19th year of leading Community Outreach for Youth assemblies. During that time, he said, he has reached more than 220,000 kids. The assemblies are conducted in the fall and spring, and Goodpaster said the speakers focus on an anti-bullying message. Again this year, Bob Mortimer will speak, and Christian rock band The Lasting Hope will perform.
“I’ve got about six hours off Saturday night and will start working on school assemblies Sunday morning,” Goodpaster said.
He said he is excited about being a vendor at Oktoberfest for the first time.
“I’ve been the customer, and now, I’m the vendor,” he said. “I’m a people guy, and I love to see people. I think that’s a gift from God. God gave me a heart for people. I’m looking forward to meeting new people, new faces; and on Saturday night, you’re going to hear a big hoop and holler as we collect a lot of cash to go out and reach young people right here in southern Indiana.”
The booth also has his grandchildren excited.
“With a fireworks tent, a basketball league and now a french fry booth, my grandkids think Grandpa is pretty awesome,” he said, smiling.
As for Robbins and other church members, they are going to take it easy during this year’s festival.
“We’re going to walk around and eat and have fun,” he said.
For information about Enter His Courts, visit enterhiscourts.org.