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Harvest Festival weekend
Food, fun, entertainment, games & auctions
St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church Pastor Patrick Walker will be among those waiting for someone to bail them out of the Jail at this weekend’s annual Harvest Festival. Joining Father Walker inside the jail is Sister Ann Venita. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
Nobody is going to have an opportunity to dunk a man of the cloth in a big tank of water.

But the lack of the once-so-popular feature at the annual St. Anthony of Padua Harvest Festival this weekend will be more than compensated by a host of family fun, food, games, auctions both live and silent, in addition to a beer garden for adults. The church is located at Fremont Avenue and North Street. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.

“Sorry, the Diocese’s insurance won’t allow this anymore,” explained St. Anthony’s Pastor, Father Patrick Walker, in his weekly column that appears in the Sunday parish bulletin, an early copy of which was provided to the Bulletin.

The dunk tank was once a very popular feature of the festival. Among those who have braved being dunked in a gigantic tank full of water were past parish staff including former pastor Fr. Lawrence McGovern, now Msgr. McGovern and the pastor of Presentation Church in Stockton. Safety issues, not to mention the unsanitary condition of the water, were among the reasons this staple summer water fun was discontinued.

Although parishioners and other visitors won’t have an opportunity to dunk the pastor – or anybody else, for that matter - in the water, they will have fun hauling him to jail until someone coughs up a donation and bails him out.

Jail and Bail is just one of the many wholesome family-oriented attractions awaiting festival goers on Saturday and Sunday in the open field between the gym and the school facing Sutter Street. There will be the usual ethnic food booths – Italian (pizza), Portuguese bread and linguica, fresh-cooked Filipino lumpia (egg rolls), Mexican comestibles such as tacos, and other standard festival food fare.

In addition, there will be various games for children, a booth for bookworms, and live entertainment featuring homegrown talents.

The longstanding live auction will be one of the major attractions, with a slight difference from the way it used to be. Instead of having it on the grounds with bidders and watchers seated on fresh and fragrant bales of hay or in bleachers, while real live cows and other animals up for bid mooed and bleated in a secured area behind them, this guaranteed upbeat and lively event will take place inside the gym. And the animals? Thanks to the magic of modern technology, their pictures and video tapes will be shown on large-screen television inside the gym for all to see before and during the bidding.

In addition to the live auction, there will be a silent auction taking place also in the gym. Among the items offered for silent bidding are theme baskets put together and donated by each class at St. Anthony’s School.

There will be ongoing opportunities both days for festival goers to snag some big-ticket prizes such as a notebook computer, bicycles, iPod Shuffles, a digital camera, restaurant bundles, barbecues and a day spa package. These are among the raffle prizes to be given away. Tickets for this drawing will be sold on the festival grounds both days. Drawings will be held continuously both days. Ticket donations are a buck apiece or 6 for $5, and 12 for $10.

There will be two grand prizes - $1,000 in cash, and an eight-day, seven-night stay at a Northern California Wyndham. Drawings for these major prizes will be held at the conclusion of the festival at 8 p.m. on Sunday. One need not be present to win.

The theme of this year’s festival is “Alive for God in Christ Jesus.” Commemorative T-shirts featuring art work by Sister Ann Venita incorporating the festival theme will be available for purchase also. There are sizes for children up to adults.

Among the sponsors of the festival this year are St. John’s Catholic Cemetery, In-Shape Health Club, Hafer’s Home Furnishings, Farmer’s Insurance, Wal-Mart, La Guadalupana Catholic Goods, P.L. Fry & Son Funeral Service, Delicato Family Vineyards, Financial Center Credit Union, Ability Mortgage and IHOP.

For further details or to purchase T-shirts in advance, call the church office at 823-7197.