For families looking for a fun weekend event, this year's Summerfest at Our Lady of Charity Parish in Buffalo will take place from Thursday, July 24 to Saturday, July 26. The event offers afternoons and evenings of food, music, drinks, children's activities and raffles.
Summerfest will be held at St. Ambrose, located at 65 Ridgewood Road. All proceeds from the event will go to Our Lady of Charity Parish, which was formed from the merger of St. Ambrose, Holy Family and St. Agatha parishes. In previous years, the event lasted for only two days; however, this year it will take place on Thursday from 5-9 p.m., Friday from 4-11 p.m., and Saturday from noon until 11 p.m.
"It tends to be a very good community event for our parish, and even the surrounding parishes in South Buffalo. It's a really big community builder. People come, and there are people who will say, 'I couldn't go the one night, but I want to make sure I go the other night,'" Thomas Burns, an event organizer for Summerfest, said. "You get to go, and you see people you may not have seen in a while."
On Thursday, 1950s and 1960s music will be played during the annual classic car show. All pre-registrations for the car show must be in by noon on Wednesday, July 23. Interested participants may obtain forms from the church entrances, the parish rectory or www.ourladyofcharityparish.com.
Friday will feature classic rock cover band and Buffalo Music Hall of Fame inductees Only Humen (sic), who will perform from 7-11 p.m. In addition to songs by acts such as the Beatles, Elvis Presley, CCR, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Eagles and Lynyrd Skynyrd, they play modern hits by bands including the Tragically Hip, The Cure, Matchbox Twenty, Dave Matthews Band and Jimmy Eat World.
Saturday's events include a craft show and children's games from noon until 6 p.m., and live music by local bands from 1-7 p.m. There is a performance by Peaceful Dove from 2-4:30 p.m., and the "Elvis and Cash Show," with Patrick Johnson as Elvis and Bobby D. as Johnny Cash, starts at 7 p.m.
Food and drink offerings for the whole weekend will include hot dogs, hamburgers, steak sandwiches, corn on the cob, fried bologna, soft drinks, wine and beer. Specially catered dinners will be available from 4-7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, fish fry meals from BW's Catering will be sold, and on Saturday, attendees may buy Chiavetta's chicken dinners. On both days, these dinners cost $10 if preordered, and $12 if purchased on the day of the sale. Preordering is recommended.
Throughout the weekend, there will also be theme basket raffles, with over 200 baskets, plus several small raffles as well as a grand prize raffle, with four prizes of a Panasonic 55" plasma high-definition television set, a Samsung Galaxy 4 tablet, $250 to be used at Shea's Performing Arts Center, and a Samsung Sound Bar, which amplifies the sound from a television set.
Burns said Summerfest draws anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 people each year, "probably 1,200," over the weekend. Since people normally preregister for the dinners, they usually buy 300 a night, although not everyone purchases one. He added, "It's very well received in the area, and there's not a lot of them anymore. A lot of them have gone away, these kinds of summerfests and lawn fetes."
According to Burns, the Our Lady of Charity Summerfest has been going strong, and before the three parishes merged, St. Ambrose and St. Agatha held their own separate festivals. He said Summerfest, in some form, has continued in South Buffalo parishes for "at least 15 years, maybe even 20."
Burns also said Summerfest benefits a "very strong pull" for pastor Msgr. David M. Lee, who he called "such a community builder in our parish." Burns said after Msgr. Lee was attacked, held at knifepoint and robbed in Our Lady of Charity's rectory last September, word quickly spread via social media. People rallied behind him, and the 7 p.m. Mass the following weekend was "as full as it is for Christmas."
"It kind of just shows the feeling that people have about him as a leader in this area, and the Church, I think, is the center of that. People come to this event for him, and for the Church, and to keep the church community strong," Burns said. "The school closed; this the first year the school is not open, but the church community is very strong. I think people sense that, and want to keep the St. Ambrose and Holy Family churches thriving in our area. They're very important to our community."
To purchase tickets, call St. Ambrose at 822-5962 or St. Agatha at 822-2668. For more information, contact Thomas Burns at 535-0693 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Raffle and dinner tickets are also available after all weekend Masses at the parish.