Photo by Erika Fleegle
Holy Wisdom Parish’s annual Northside Summer Celebration at St. Boniface Church in Spring Hill kicked off this week and will run through this weekend.
By Erika Fleegle
As the sun sets, the scent of funnel cakes and the sound of children’s laughter permeate the cool air. With summer coming to a close, it’s time for one of Northside’s biggest events, the Holy Wisdom Parish annual Northside Summer Celebration at St. Boniface Church in Spring Hill Aug.12-15.
For the past 21 years, the Northside Summer Celebration has become somewhat of a staple for area residents. Bill Dyrwal, manager of the parish, was on hand to discuss the organization of the festival and its history.
“Holy Wisdom was founded on May 28, 1994, “ he said. “We’ve been having the festival every year since then.”
In recent years, the size of the festival has grown dramatically thanks to community involvement, entertainment and corporate sponsorships. However, it’s not just about the congregation; Holy Wisdom wants to attract others outside of the church as well.
“We’re a small parish, but we want to extend outside our membership,” Dyrwal noted. “(The event) is almost more community than congregation. People look forward to it every year. I have people that call months in advance asking when the festival’s going to be and who’s going to perform.”
Each day offers something for everyone. On Thursday, Aug. 13, disco cover band Dancing Queen will share the spotlight with over 120 classic cars featured in the festivals classic car cruise. Those looking for a little more excitement shouldn’t miss taking a chance on skydiver lottery. For $20, festival-goers can “purchase” one of 600, small squares of land. After ticket sales have been closed, a local skydiver will jump from a plane and land on one of the predetermined squares, giving the winner a $5,000 prize. Finally, Northside-native Johnny Angel and his Halos will close out weekend on Aug. 15 with a performance following a 4 p.m. festival mass and spaghetti dinner.
Performances aren’t the only draw to the festival, however. Upon entering the grounds of St. Boniface, visitors are met with colorful, brightly-lit carnival rides and games promising thrills, and maybe a giant stuffed animal, to the young and young-at-heart. Further up on the property, booths hawking baked goods and religious items are tucked between food vendors and games of chance. The Summer Celebration is continuing its tradition of raffling off a Corvette, too. This year, a 2012 Grand Sport Convertible will be chanced off at $20 per ticket with the official drawing being Sept. 7.
While the festival is a way for community members to come together for a good time, it serves another purpose as the money raised during the festival helps to fund local Catholic and high school education as well as maintain the Church of Saint Boniface as a National Historic Landmark.
One resident and festival volunteer, Kathleen Mylott, was pleased with the turnout of the first day of the festival.
“It’s a form of outreach to the community,” she said. “It’s part of why we moved here.”
The former New Yorker, who has been involved with the parish and the festival for the past six years, moved to the area because of the strong spiritual environment she found, particularly in the Latin mass community.
For Dyrwal, the best part of the festival is seeing all of the hard work come together.
“We’re probably the last remaining Northside parish festival,” he said. “It’s a really involved adventure. But when you see what it does for the community and what people are willing to do as volunteers, it’s worth the effort.”
For more information and a full schedule of the Northside Summer Celebration’s festivities visit the Holy Wisdom Parish’s official website.
Holy Wisdom Parish’s annual Northside Summer Celebration at St. Boniface Church in Spring Hill has something from everyone, including carnival rides, vendors and even skydiving lottery.