HARKER HEIGHTS — Dads took a dip in the water Sunday at Dana Peak Park as families came out in droves for the first-ever Dad Fest, hosted by Vintage Church in Heights.

While primarily a Father’s Day celebration, the event also featured a baptism ceremony, with men, women and children getting dunked in Stillhouse Hollow Lake to confirm their faith.

“Getting baptized is something that I have wanted to do for a long time, but I wanted to wait to do it in a place I knew I was going to stay for a while,” Chad Bettencourt said. Bettencourt, a father of two, was at Dad Fest celebrating with his family. “I was in the Army for 10 years, and I got out about two and half years ago and settled down in Harker Heights.”

Bettencourt said he likes the area, and he is actively working on becoming a member of Vintage Church. He also said he has never been baptized before.

“I thought it was really nice to be baptized on Father’s Day,” Bettencourt said. “I had the feeling I wanted to do it today as soon as I heard about this.”

The event was approved by the church as a whole, and was organized along with Dana Peak Park. The event was free to anyone who wanted to attend as the park employees waived the $5 entrance fee to the park for those attending Dad Fest.

The church offered traditional summertime outdoor meals — hamburgers, hot dogs and a variety of chips — and a broad range of Christian music.

“We just came up with the event as a church as a ‘thank you’ for the dads,” event organizer Nate Devito said. “Though I think the Dad Fest is taking a back seat to the water baptisms, which a lot of people came out for.”

Devito said even though the church came up with event as a whole, he was one of the ones put in charge of it because he is a dad himself.

“I have one child, a 6-year-old boy, and he is a handful,” Devito said, laughing. “I think an event like this is great. We are all about reaching out and helping people, and building up lives.”

Pastor Stephen Martin was in charge of leading the water baptisms at the event, and he was pleased with the turnout.

“We have about 20 people out here getting baptized today, and I think that is great,” Martin said. “We love getting out here to the lake and having events out here.

“Something like this is just such an important milestone in people’s faith.”

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