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North Hills festival organizers see fruits of their labor grow

| Thursday, July 5, 2007

One of the largest festivals in the North Hills draws people to St. Sebastian Parish's popular farmer's market and its vast flea market, organizers say.

The festival, which starts Monday and runs through July 14, will feature rides, games, entertainment and food booths.

"We use all the grounds we have, and the produce stand is unique and always a big hit," said Tommy Hoffman, St. Sebastian's director of music and liturgy.

Three booths will be filled with fresh fruits and vegetables donated by Consumers Produce Co., in the Strip District, for sale at "bargain prices," said Pete Machi, of McCandless, who will man the booths with Mario Grana, of Ross.

A "sister" booth, a lemonade stand, is popular because of the secret recipe, Machi said. "The flavor is unbelievable," he said.

The produce even attracts people who aren't necessarily planning to spend the evening at the festival.

"We have people who stop specifically at the farmer's market on their way home from work to pick up produce for their dinners," Machi said.

Last year, the market and lemonade stand raised approximately $24,000 for the parish, he said.

Up to 1,000 people a day are expected to attend the festival, said the Rev. Bill Terza, pastor at St. Sebastian, which has 8,000 parishioners.

"We extend the festival for six days because we have such a large parish and it gives everyone the opportunity to attend. We always have a good turnout," Terza said.

Nightly home-cooked meals, many of them ethnic dishes prepared by parishioners, are a big hit, Hoffman said.

Bargain hunters can find books, tools, stuffed animals, decorations -- "almost anything they want," Terza said -- at the festival's flea market, which encompasses the entire first floor of St. Sebastian School.

"The festival has become so popular because it provides people with the opportunity to support the school and parish and have fun socializing," Terza said.

Additional Information:

If you go

St. Sebastian Parish Festival:

When : 6:30-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 6:30-11 p.m. Friday; 6-11 p.m., Saturday, with Mass at 4 p.m. Dinners served nightly from 4:30-7 p.m.

Where : St. Sebastian Parish grounds, 311 Siebert Road, Ross.

Cost : Free admission. Dinners, $7.50 for adults; $4 for children ages 6-12; free for children 5 and younger.

Details : 412-364-0534.

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