St. Athanasius Parish festival to be more 'lively'

| Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The St. Athanasius Parish festival in West View — which begins today, Thursday, and runs through Saturday — has a new feature this year — live entertainment.

A stage will be constructed against the parish's Education & Community Center building, said Patrice Mikec, festival committee chairwoman and community center coordinator.

“We wanted to add new things to provide more enjoyment for our community,” said Mikec, of Ross Township.

Tonight, an accordion player will provide music for festival attendees beginning at 7 p.m., and Saturday at 7 p.m., a trio of youths from Butler County will perform inspirational country-western songs, Mikec said.

The karaoke contest, which has a $100 prize, will be at 7 p.m. Friday. It has more than a dozen entrants each year, Mikec said.

People can sign up for the karaoke contest in advance or before the contest begins. Entrants must fill out a form with the song they want to sing and pay a $5 fee.

Three or four volunteer judges will use scoring sheets to decide a contest winner, Mikec said.

The festival hours are 6 to 11 p.m. each night on the parish grounds at 7 Chalfonte Ave.

This year, the festival's flea market and produce stand will have expanded hours. Both will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and after the 7:30, 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. Masses on Sunday, as well as during festival hours, Mikec said.

“We get the produce donated, so we want to be sure and sell as much as we can so there is no waste,” she said.

Items not sold at the flea market are donated to charity or other church sales, Mikec said.

Another new festival feature is a photo booth with room for one person or a group. Using the booth costs $5 and generates two long reels of photos.

A basket raffle, bake sale, rides, and nightly themed dinners served in the church basement are returning features.

All money raised at the festival goes toward the general operating costs of the parish, and it takes about 300 volunteers to run the festival, Mikec said.

“It's still an old-fashioned festival. Our parishioners volunteer, so there are no big companies coming in to run everything,” Mikec said. “It's more inviting, and, I think, a little more fun.”

The entire parish gets involved, with people coming together to peel apples for the pies sold at the festival and donating food and beverages.

A room in the parish is “stuffed to the gills” with soft drinks donated by parishioners, said Deacon Bill Palamara, parish administrator.

Much of the outside community perceives the festival as just a fundraiser, but it's really a great way to reach out to the community, Palamara said.

“By opening our doors and letting people see a Catholic community come together for a big project like this (festival), I think it rubs off on people,” Palamara said.

Melanie Donahoo is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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