Parish communities welcome return of fall festivals and carnivals
By Michelle McDaniel
Special to The Texas Catholic
After last year’s cancellation of festivals and activities due to COVID-19, church and community members are now encountering a resurgence of events and activities to attend.
This season, a number of fall festivals and carnivals will be held by local parishes to bring people together in celebration of each other and the arrival of Autumn.
St. Jude Catholic Church in Allen celebrated their annual carnival with rides, a Ferris wheel, food, and more Sept. 2 through Sept. 5 at Talley Rides and Midway, with a courtyard carnival on Sept. 4 held at their own parish.
“It’s just something we enjoy doing, and it’s just a great opportunity for us to open wide our doors to our community and the surrounding communities,” St. Jude Family Life Coordinator Della Doss said. “This year, in particular, to see all the laughter and smiles and fun that people had was very gratifying to us as a Carnival Committee, to know that we shared in a little bit of that.”
Precautions against the spread of COVID were taken with sanitation and wipes available at every ride and game, and free masks were offered to all volunteers. All activities were held outside, including ones traditionally hosted inside the parish hall and classrooms.
Doss estimates between 5,000 and 6,000 people attended their event throughout the weekend. A large undertaking, almost 500 volunteer time slots were filled, in addition to church staff and the Knights of Columbus’ work throughout the four-day festival.
“We considered it a success,” Doss said. “Of course, we measure our success by more than just numbers and dollars. We measure it by the joy we get to see on peoples’ faces riding the rides and coming to the carnival, and I think in particular this year, people were ready to get out.”
These community-focused parish festivals continue to resurge throughout the diocese. St. Ann Catholic Parish’s Community Carnival in Coppell returned on Sept. 10-12 after COVID forced their first missed year in almost 30 years of celebration.
“People come, and they get to know other people in the church—people who maybe don’t go to their Mass and maybe aren’t involved in the same ministries—so it’s a time for pulling not only our church community together, but our civic community as well,” St. Ann’s Co-Operations Manager Jim Doyle said.
The St. Ann’s Community Carnival has an annual attendance rate of about 15,000 people over the span of the three days it operates, with 1,800 volunteer time slots.
This year, they offered more games than ever before and an enlarged children’s area, in addition to the annual entertainment tent with live music, a petting zoo, raffle (with a first place prize of a 2021 Mercedes Benz), rides, and more.
“St. Ann’s is coming back to life, and it’s awesome to see,” Co-Manager Ed Leonard said. “The Masses are picking up. The participation in Mass is picking up. People are singing loud. Everybody is just hungry to be back to normal.”
This fall, St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in Plano will re-establish their festival after an interlude of about 10 years.
Their festival, themed “Gather the Flock,” will include food, kid’s activities, a 5K run, games, raffle, and more, and will begin with a bilingual Mass on Oct. 9 at 4:30 p.m. and continue until 10 p.m. that night.
Leslie Rodriguez, the director of communications and marketing for St. Mark, reports that their primary goal is to reach back out to those who no longer attend Mass after a survey showed that
many felt they had lost their connection to the community.
“It’s a great opportunity for people to come back and start that community building again because we know that it’s very much necessary,” Rodriguez said.
Visit the community calendar on www.cathdal.org for a listing of other planned parish fall festivals and carnivals.