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Bonfire and family fun offer Black Friday alternative in Brooksville

The Lakewood Retreat will host its 10th-annual Christian family festival.
Last year’s Fall Family Festival bonfire was a centerpiece of the annual event at Lakewood Retreat in Brooksville. [Courtesy Lakewood Retreat]
Last year’s Fall Family Festival bonfire was a centerpiece of the annual event at Lakewood Retreat in Brooksville. [Courtesy Lakewood Retreat]
Published Nov. 17
Updated Nov. 17

BROOKSVILLE -- For those seeking a Christian, family-oriented experience on Black Friday, Lakewood Retreat is offering its 10th-annual Fall Family Festival from 4 to 10 p.m. on Nov. 29.

“What better way to spend the Friday evening after Thanksgiving?” asked Bud Goodwin, director for the retreat. “You’re coming with neighbors and friends to enjoy a quiet, Christ-honoring, fun-filled time where you’ll meet some of the nicest people in Hernando County.”

Choosing Thanksgiving weekend for its event was a win-win situation.

“Lakewood tends to be pretty quiet the weekend after Thanksgiving, so it was a good time to fit in an event,” Goodwin said. “Also, a lot of time family is in town, and they’re looking for something to do. I thought this would make a fun, affordable event for families to spend the night together.”

Lakewood’s natural, outdoor setting will be the backdrop for special events held in the lighted activities area of the retreat, including hay rides, mini golf, basketball, tennis, sand volleyball, human foosball, horseshoes, tether ball, shuffleboard and a zip ride, along with table games in the game room.

The cost is $5 per person or $14 for a family. No reservations are required, but Goodwin suggests arriving early to be sure to have a spot on one of the hayrides.

“People are milling around, so there’s no one focus point,” Goodwin said. “It’s not crowded, because people are all spread out doing different things. Last year we had 600, but it seemed like 150. It’s amazing.”

A huge bonfire is the highlight.

“We had an amazing bonfire last year and hope to do the same this year,” Goodwin said. “That will light off when it gets dark, around 6 or 6:15 p.m. It starts out as a little flame, and it turns into a roaring bonfire pretty quickly.”

Smaller campfires are also lit for people to make smores, and they can watch as staff members make kettle corn. Both food items are free to those with tickets, as are hot chocolate, coffee and water.

Food will be available for purchase. A meal of a burger, chips and soda costs $4, a hot dog combo costs $3, nachos and cheese cost $1. Other food items are yet to be determined.

“Last year, the ladies served chili, and sausage, pepper and onion sandwiches were $5,” Goodwin said.

Worship teams from various churches will provide Christian music and maybe some bluegrass, throughout the evening.

“It’s all family-friendly,” Goodwin said. “We have Karen and Jorge as our main singers, and they’ll be singing Christian contemporary worship-type music. We’ll also have some Christmas music, so it’s a good way to kick off the Christmas season.”

Goodwin suggests people “dress for the weather.”

“Typically, long pants in the evening as there can be some mosquitos right at dusk," he said, "but I don’t think the mosquitos are bad this year.”

If people want to stay overnight and enjoy daylight activities like canoeing and swimming, they should call to make a reservation.

“This event is designed purposely to be simple,” Goodwin said. “We’re unique in that we are a retreat center rather than a theme park, but we do have a theme — growing closer to the Lord. That’s our goal.”

To go: Lakewood Retreat, 25458 Dan Brown Hill Road, Brooksville, is open throughout the year to individuals or groups looking for an outdoor retreat experience. Office hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with hours extended to 9 p.m. on Fridays. At and the retreat’s Facebook page are photos of the many activities, as well as photos of the facilities and a history of the camp. A tour of the camp may be arranged by calling (352) 796-4097 or sending an email to


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