PIQUA — St. Mary Parish Festival will celebrate its 46th year of fun and festivities for the parish and community this weekend. The festival will be held from 6-11 p.m. Friday, 3-11 p.m. Saturday, and 1:30-7:30 p.m. Sunday, with rides, live entertainment, food, a cake booth, kiddieland, pony rides, games of chance, a corn hole tournament, a grand raffle and more.
The festival began in 1970 and was held on the grounds of the former Knights of Columbus Hall on County Road 25-A. The first festival featured games of chance and food, according to one of the past festival chairpersons, Jan Hissong.
The celebration was moved to the parish grounds at 528 Broadway in the early 1970s. Tom Staley and Jim Apple then spearheaded the construction of brightly colored festival booths and Leroy Steinke helped to make canvas coverings for each of the booths. Apple recalled that Charlie Drapp flew his plane above the festival grounds and took pictures so the group could remember where each booth would be placed the following year.
Once the old Piqua Catholic High School was torn down, the festival was expanded to include carnival rides and an entertainment stage along with more games, food and activities for the entire family.
“The Knights of Columbus used to pull in their famous bus and prepare fried chicken at those first festivals,” said Apple.
In recent years, Mitch Hohlbein and a group of volunteers fry chicken over pit barbecues.
“The chicken dinners are still a really great part of the festival!” Apple added.
Current festival chairs Brad Ulbrich, Trent Karn and Lance Karn, along with hundreds of volunteers are preparing for this festival anniversary celebration.
“Lots of work goes into the planning and actual festival itself,” Hissong said. “It’s a wonderful weekend for both parish members and the community who have been huge supporters over the years.”
Father Tom Bolte, pastor of St. Boniface and St. Mary Parishes, continued the thank yous for all involved in the festival. “We couldn’t do this without the many, many volunteers along with the city, neighbors, and those businesses and individuals who support the festival each year,” he said. “Each one truly adds to the success of the weekend.”