OLEAN – The 37th annual St. John’s Church festival celebrated the culture and food of the Italian community – and in 2017 the Polish community joined them.
This year, the organizers are adding the traditions of the Irish, another ethnic group with a long history in the North Olean.
“It’s kind of changing the St. John’s festival, it’s more of a cultural festival,” said Kip Morrow of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH). “I see this coming with all the festivals as our community gets smaller and we are proud of all of our legacies.”
“We are celebrating the best of the North End,” agreed Tom Palumbo, event president. “The most important thing is food, entertainment and bringing people together. “
AOH used to host an Irish festival for the Olean community, Morrow said, but one of the things the AOH aims for is to bring Irish traditions into the larger community.
“We talked about it and we finally had to hang in there and get involved,” Morrow said. “We’re going to try and see how it all goes. It’s the same amount of work if you plan on 10 or a thousand, and being the first year, we have no idea how it’s going to go, but we put on the boots and give it a try. “
They will serve bangers (an Irish sausage) with salted potatoes and corned beef sandwiches, popular dishes on Irish tables. Of course, Italian holiday favorites including meatballs, pizza and pasta will be a mainstay, while Polish pierogis and cabbage rolls will also be available.
Cannoli, pizza, biscotti, and farfalle will complete the menu – but if you want to try the baked goods, buy them early, they usually sell out before dinner time.
Other popular festival foods available will include three types of funnel cakes; cotton candy snow cones; hot dogs and ice cream offered by Twist and Shake.
The popular Francis Week Rogers Bocce tournament will continue, as every year since the inception of the festival, with participants playing throughout the day.
Mark Baker of Eagle Dream Rehabilitation will also be back this year, who will be on hand to showcase some of the rescued raptors, including the barn owls and horned owls he takes care of.
Families are welcome at the festival, as activities for children have developed.
“There will be a lot more games for the kids this year,” said Katie Barber, executive assistant to Father Pat Melfi in St. John’s. “There will be a merry-go-round, bounce house, scramble and face painting…” The rides will run from noon to night and tickets will cost just $ 10 for a day pass for the rides.
Live music will again include the Larry Lewicki Band which will kick off the festivities; Freddy and the Jets will play later in the afternoon, and the festivities close on Saturday night will be Nerds Gone Wild. Irish dancers will entertain the crowd between groups, as well as Irish group Wild Rovers and 96 Highlanders Pipes & Drums in Jamestown.
Another change this year is the sharp increase in cash donations. The pot doubled to $ 20,000 according to Barber. The first prize will be awarded at $ 10,000; the second will be worth $ 2,000 and the third will consist of three gifts of $ 1,000 each. The remaining $ 5,000 will be awarded in smaller amounts and, of course, the perennial favorite zippers will be available.
There is no charge for the festival, which runs from noon to 11 p.m.