This weekend, scores of people will descend upon the grounds of St. Patrick Church in Parnell for an annual tradition that has been decades in the making. The historic church is holding its annual festival which attracts people from both its parish and the greater community.
From humble beginnings, the St. Patrick Festival has grown from one day to three days. It has also expanded its line-up of activities to include a diverse variety of entertainment and events geared toward participants of all ages.
From Roast Beef to Bar-B-Q Chicken
Denny Nugent, a lifetime member of St. Patrick Parish, remembers attending the original parish festivals as a child. “It was all out on the front lawn at that time,” he says. That was in the ‘40s and ‘50s when booths on wheels were pulled in while community members picnicked on a Sunday afternoon.
“Originally, it was a roast beef dinner, and everything was cooked here by parishioners,” Nugent says. The festival continued until the late ‘50s or early ‘60s when the last of the original events was held. There would be about a 10 year hiatus before the event would return.
When the festival was revived, the parish tried making the main meal from scratch as it had in the past but found that difficult. Roast beef was replaced, and the current chicken bar-b-q dinner is now the highlight of the St. Patrick Festival for many people.
The meat wasn’t the only thing that changed over the years. What was originally a Sunday only event added Saturday activities and now runs into Friday as well. One of the additions was a beer tent in the ‘70s. However, the laws about alcohol near a church were much different back then. “It couldn’t be on church grounds,” Nugent says. Times have changed and now the beer tent and Las Vegas tent are both on the church property.
Old Events Joined by New Ones
The Sunday dinner has remained constant throughout the long history of the St. Patrick Festival. However, other activities were added later. These include a classic car show, carnival games and cash raffle. One event that was recently revived is the festival auction.
An auction was held for many years at the festival, but it was discontinued at some point. A few years ago, an auction committee was formed to restore the event. Meranda Lamoreaux has been helping for the past five years.
“It’s a fun way to support our school,” she says. Lamoreaux has two children enrolled in St. Patrick School and notes the auction helps support tuition assistance as well as other parish activities. With 72 live auction items and overflowing tables for the silent auction, it’s a part of the festival that draws people from all walks of life. “There’s enough variety that everyone can participate,” she says.
Lamoreaux predicts donated dinners – including a hosted farm-to-table meal – as well as Kid Rock tickets will be popular this year. There is also a tandem bike, gift baskets full of goodies and handmade items from students at St. Patrick School.
The newest addition to the St. Patrick Festival is the 5K Run. It was added seven years and is a timed race with awards for the top three male and female finishers. The run played a role in helping the festival decide to expand its activities one more day to include Friday.
2017 St. Patrick Festival Schedule of Events
St. Patrick Church is located at the corner of Parnell and 5 Mile Road. If you need your GPS to get there, the address is 4351 Parnell NE.
The weekend events are as follows:
Friday June 23, 2017
Euchre Tournament: Sign-up at 6pm, Tournament starts at 6:30pm
5K Run: 7pm
Beer Tent: 7pm
Kari Lynch (live music): 8pm-11:30pm
Saturday June 24, 2017
Festival Auction: 5pm
Las Vegas Tent: 7pm-Midnight
Beer Tent: 5pm-Midnight
Alive and Well (live music): 9pm-Midnight
Sunday June 25 2017
Chicken Bar-B-Q Dinner: 12pm-5pm, takeout available
Children’s Games: 12:30pm-4:30pm
Quilt Exhibit in Church: 12:30pm-4:30pm
Custom Classic Car, Truck & Antique Tractor Show: 11am-5pm
Live Music: 1pm-5pm
Beer Tent: Opens at 12pm
$15,000 Cash Raffle Drawing: 5:30pm