COLUMBUS GROVE — Parishioners and festival-goers this weekend at the two-day St. Antony enjoyed new attractions and a debut musical performance at this year’s festival.
The change in carnival ride providers happened because the previous company couldn’t find enough workers because of COVID, said Ken Crews, who has co-chaired the event for roughly 28 years and serves on the church’s finance committee.
“Being a small society, you don’t get some of the big rides like at the fairs. We had to find ways to do something for the kids,” Cruz said.
Truck Stop Manners couldn’t make it this year, so this year is also the parish debut for Two Groovy’s 1960s and 1970s musical performance from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
On Saturday, other events took place from 5:00 pm until about 10:00 pm and included a 5K run that started at 7:00 pm at the school.
Approximately 450 $10 barbecue ribs, barbecue chicken and barbecue pork chop dinners were prepared and sold starting at 5 p.m., and when those were sold out, the hamburger tent opened, Cruz said. Dinners came with baked potatoes, applesauce and a roll.
The festival resumed on Sunday from 11am to 10pm and activities included duck races, children’s games, a ten cent baker’s wheel, a garage sale, country shop and crafts, quarterly bingo where winners take home a gift (as opposed to cash) .
“Duck racing goes on all day in the beer tent. People bet on 8 or 9 ducks that enter each race. The odds are then calculated on the computer for what the payout is. The ducklings run through the air on a path made of ventilated Plexiglas. You can see the ducks coming in. They close them and then they see the other end and there they run, and then they take them out after every race,” Cruz said.
Sunday’s $12 home-cooked meal for dine-in or takeout included chicken and beef dinners with all the fixings (mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, noodles, coleslaw and a roll).
“The whole social network is run by parishioners and that makes it special. Not too many parish festivals are held like this anymore,” said Kruse. “There are 400 to 500 workers scheduled for the weekend. It basically takes the whole parish to do it.”
As for parishioners’ donations, “the country store is very popular and the shed is full of donated garage sale items,” Cruz said.
In terms of turnout, Cruz said, “the whole city basically supported us for a day.”
In addition to attracting residents from other towns and parishes within a two-county radius, the festival also brought together friends and family from far-flung points across the country.
“This is the fourth year we’ve had friends from California come just for the weekend,” Cruz said. “They are completely amazed by what is happening here. They say you can stand and talk to anyone. You know everyone on social media. They are from California and said they barely know their neighbors. So they just go out and just have the best time,” Cruz said.
“It’s an old tradition. I hope to help keep it going for a while,” Cruz said.
The roughly century-old tradition of the Catholic parish festival serves to raise funds to support St. Anthony Parish, fund the salaries of its teachers and help keep tuition low for enrolled elementary school students.
Additional donations may be made to the parish of St. Anthony of Padua, 512 W. Sycamore St., Columbus Grove.
Ken Kruse, who has been co-chairman of the parish festival for some 28 years, during the annual parish festival of St. Anthony of Padua on Sunday in Columbus Grove.
Children play during Sunday’s annual parish festival of St. Anthony of Padua at Columbus Grove.
Contact Shannon Bole at 567-242-0399, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Bohle_LimaNews.