30 March, 2022
Church FestivalsPosted in : youngstown-cooks on by : MikeZ Tags: Blog, Church Festivals
It may not seem like Spring just yet but I know it’s just around the corner because everywhere you look, plans are being made for the return of the Church Festival. After years of postponements and cancellations, our area congregations are planning their Annual Festival. The origins of Church Festivals as we know them are lost to antiquity. They are an age-old melding of Church Holiday Celebrations, Patron Saints’ Feast Days, and community Harvest Festivals. In our area, they run throughout the summer months taking advantage of hot days, cool summer evenings, and time off from school and busy schedules.
There’s so much about them but most of all, they are the sights, sounds, and SMELLS of a special time each year when we gather to take a break at our local parish parking lot. So put on your shorts and comfy shoes and take a walk with me down the Midway. There are tents and stalls everywhere you look. Games of Chance, Merri-go-rounds, Ferris Wheels, and FOOD!
Whether it’s a Bake Sale offering chances to win a homemade Cake or Pie baked with the loving generosity of the Ladies’ Guild, plate after plate of Cookies and Nut Rolls, or the Spaghetti or Fried Chicken Dinner in the Church Hall, you can’t escape the unending offerings of something delicious to eat. There’s that gal spinning sugar into Cotton Candy to give our kids an extra boost of boundless energy. Next to her is a steamy vat of Carmel Popcorn that you can smell from blocks away just begging you to try some.
Somewhere there’s a Polka band playing The Beer Barrel Polka next to the ever-present Bierhalle that is fenced off in the corner of the parking lot. Sitting for a spell on a picnic bench with a cold beer and warm Soft Pretzel with cheese or mustard makes taking a break from the crowds a necessity for the men-folk and more than a few of the ladies as well.
Meanwhile, who can resist (my favorite) the Sausage Hoagie with Peppers & Onions on a bun so soft it must be fresh from an oven in the back of the food truck. Wrapped in a sleeve of aluminum foil and a napkin, it just begs for my attention. I don’t believe I’ve ever gone to a Festival at which I failed to have at least one. Its juices often dribble from the corner of my mouth as I try to not eat like I’ve been starving for days.
Let’s not forget the classic Philly Cheesesteak served hot off the grill with a generous helping of Green Peppers, Onions, and melted Velveeta. Next to that might be the French Fry Stand with a line so long that it blocks anyone trying to walk down the Midway. Those Fries force memories of Idora Park and better times long gone. There are salt shakers the size of coffee mugs and the ever-present bottles of vinegar to add zing to the mix.
The Midway stretches even further, past the Fried Veggie Stand where you’ll find Breaded, Deep Fried Mushrooms, Bell Peppers, and even Cauliflower served hot from the deep fryer. You know that all that fried food isn’t good for you but… they’re vegetables and you have to have your daily veggies. Right? And speaking of fried food, how about stopping by the Corn Dog stand? Sure, it’s deep-fried but it’s on a stick. How can that possibly be bad for your waistline? Put a little Ketchup on it (that’s also a veggie) and you’ve got a Cornbread wrapped beef treat that the “kid” inside you would sell your sister for.
And then for dessert. Close your eyes and imagine deep-fried pancake batter drizzled into hot oil, swirling round and round until it’s the size of a dinner plate. Now sprinkle enough powdered sugar on it to make it almost into a glazed donut. Smell the sweetness and taste that sinfully good Funnel Cake. It’s the perfect way to finish off a day of over-indulgence. It’s not really gluttony if you share that enormous treat with someone. After all, sharing means half of the calories and ZERO GUILT.
So decide right now that you’ll join me at your local Church Festival this year and help support their fundraising. Whether it’s St. Christine’s, Mount Carmel, or any of the many other Festivals, you won’t be sorry/ But… You just might have to let out your belt a notch or two.
All of those Favorite Festival Foods are linked in the text above and shown here, as well…
Hover over link for photo.
And here are the latest Recipes posted on the website…
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