St. Ann's Summer Festival returns to Lenox this weekend
LENOX -- The annual St. Ann's Summer Festival, billed as a "Berkshire Community Celebration," promises a blend of comedy, music, a "Taste of the Berkshires" sampling of signature foods from 25 area restaurants, a new beer and wine garden, as well as the traditional Saturday Kids Carnival and the Sunday Pancake Breakfast.
The festival, this Friday through Sunday, is a benefit for the St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church Historic Restoration Fund.
All proceeds go to the church at 134 Main St.; last summer's fundraiser yielded nearly $50,000, a record, said the Rev. Christopher J. Waitekus, known as "Father CJ" to his parishioners and the community.
The Comedy Night on Friday at 7 p.m. features Wayne Soares, a classmate of Father CJ's at North Adams State College (now MCLA), performing in the Parish Hall.
Soares, a comedian and actor, has entertained U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, South Korea and Turkey. He has been featured in the documentary "My Father, My Don" and in "The Curse of Don Sarducci" with Alec Baldwin.
St. Ann's Summer Festival
WHERE: St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church, 134 Main St. Lenox
FRIDAY: 7 p.m.: Comedy Night with Wayne Soares and Dan Schilling. Adults 21 and over. Admission: $15. Cash bar and snacks available. (Doors open 6:30).
Also, a silent auction to bid on gift certificates to area spas, restaurants, retailers and service businesses.
SATURDAY: 10 a.m.: One-hour tour of historic St. Ann's Church, led by the Rev. Christopher J. Waitekus.
10 a.m. - 2 p.m.: Kids Carnival. On the back lawn, active games, face-painting and prizes. Entertainment by Bruce the Balloon Man.
4:45 and 6:45 p.m.: Taste of the Berkshires, two seatings. Food samplings from 25 restaurants and caterers. Tickets (limited seating): $35 per person, including a glass of wine or other beverage and admission to the Beer and Wine Garden open from 5 to 10. Cash bar also available. Tickets at the door or in advance: NeJaime's VIP Travel (413) 298-3724; Christa Ames (email@example.com or 413-212-0455) or Laura Cestone (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For information, including participating restaurants: www.stannlenox.org or (413) 637-0157.
5-10 p.m.: Beer and Wine Garden. Admission free with Taste of the Berkshires ticket or $10 separately). Tastings from local craft breweries and wineries, $5 per glass or pint.
SUNDAY: 8-11 a.m.: Pancake Breakfast. $6 for adults, $3 for children under 12, in the Family Center. Live music by Blueberry Buckle.
Local comic Dan Schilling will begin the show. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with tickets at $15 per person, adults 21 and older only, at the door or in advance from the parish office.
The age restriction is because beer and wine will be served, Waitekus said. "My mother and I will be in the front row," he noted. "It's nothing profane or embarrassing for the pastor or the parishioners. It's making fun of everyday life."
The Kids Carnival, a free attraction for all children in the community, is slated from 10 to 2 on the back lawn of the church, featuring Bruce the Balloon Man, aka Bowie the Clown.
The Taste of the Berkshires, described as the festival's signature event, is offered in two seatings at 4:45 and 6:45 p.m. Saturday, with a maximum of 125 patrons at each. Adult-supervised child care, with snacks for youngsters up to 13, will be available.
A $35 ticket, available at the door, includes samplings provided by 25 restaurateurs and caterers, a glass of wine or other beverage, and free admission to the new Beer and Wine Garden, which is open from 5 to 10. Advance tickets can be purchased at the parish office, or through NeJaime's VIP Travel in Stockbridge.
A separate ticket to the Beer and Wine Garden is $10 per person for those not attending the dinner; tastings from four area breweries and wineries are offered at $5 per glass or pint.
The annual pancake breakfast on Sunday from 8 to 11 p.m. is served in the parish center and in adjacent small tents for $6 per adult and $3 per child under 12.
Each weekend event includes a silent "basket auction" of various items, said Marilyn Nejaime, a parishioner and organizer. "People can bid and know whether they've won the item by the end of the event," she said.
Funds raised during the weekend will cover roof repairs to the church and other structural priorities, Waitekus said, crediting the parish's late finance director, Joseph Cacciola, for emphasizing the need "to keep these buildings looking beautiful."
"Those of us who remember and revere Joe's work to make sure we have the parish center, and to restore the parish church in the condition we want it to be in, bless his memory," said Nejaime, a 10-year member with her husband, Nabih.
St. Ann's lists about 1,000 families, totaling about 2,000 individuals, as parishioners, with one-third considered active members, a stable total, said Waitekus, who has been the pastor there for 13 years.
"We're one of the few parishes in the Diocese of Springfield which pay our bills," he said. "We don't owe anybody anything because of the generosity of our parishioners."
The church, built in 1911-12 in an early English Norman style, cost $100,000; it replaced the parish's original wooden frame, Gothic Revival building constructed in 1870.
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