The longest-running annual community event by the same sponsor in Manteca is taking place this weekend.
This family-oriented celebration, St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church’s annual Harvest Festival, is taking place Friday to Sunday – Sept. 15-17 – on the parish grounds, corner of Fremont and Sutter streets. Admission to this three-day event is free.
In addition to the usual fun-filled family attractions ranging from a wide array of food and game booths, entertainment featuring local talents, and the perennially popular live and silent auctions, a host of new features await visitors this year.
Lois Wiedenhoeft, who is co-chairing the festival with husband Keith for the fifth year in a row, announced that there will be three days of celebration, starting on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m., and concluding on Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. in contrast to the weekends-only featured in previous years.
Another new thing that visitors will notice immediately, Wiedenhoeft pointed out, is the “new professionally installed tents to provide shade for your comfort, and additional seating around the grounds.”
It will be easier for festival guests to purchase auction items and drawing tickets as well this year, Wiedenhoeft said, with the use of a credit card.
Besides the regularly featured games such as Nickel Pitch, Goldfish and Betafish for the young crowd, there will be “new games (that) include Skee Ball, Corn Hole, and Toilet Flush,” inviting players to “take aim to hit the target to drench your favorite person with water.”
What to expect
each day of festival
Here’s what to expect each day of the festival:
Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. – A free dinner in the Rec Room for every person who purchased a “tent raffle” ticket which proceeds were intended to fund the new festival tent. The ticket stub must be presented for the dinner which will consist of green salad, Portuguese beans, and smoked beef brisket. The other highlight of the evening will be the drawing for the tent raffle which will take place on the outdoor stage at 7 p.m. The first-prize ticket will win $10,000.
Also on Friday evening, children in Catechism will be stuffing “blessing bag socks” for the homeless in Manteca, Wiedenhoeft said. That will be followed by the outdoor showing of the movie, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” starting at 8 p.m.
All favorite festival booths will be open on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. These will include the Major Raffle, Pull Tabs, Silent Auction and Bingo. The usual gastronomical attractions such as tacos, beer, and lumpia (eggrolls) will be there. Back by popular demand each year also will be barbecue serving Bacon Mac N Cheese, chocolate-covered bacon, coleslaw, ribs and chicken to be served both Saturday and Sunday.
For the older crowd, Saturday’s highlight will be the Mike Torres Band playing on the outdoor stage from 6 to 9 p.m.
The festival’s spiritual highlight is the Mass of Thanksgiving for the harvest on Sunday. This year, instead of having the multilingual concelebrated Mass on the outdoor stage at the festival grounds, it will be held in the church starting at 10:30 a.m. with all the church’s choirs providing the liturgy music. To accommodate the overflow crowd, the Mass will be live-streamed to attendees on the festival grounds.
All regularly scheduled Masses will be held on Sunday.
The festival will continue after the Mass, around noon. On tap in the afternoon will be the talent show, and silent auction with bidding ending at 4 p.m. The highlight on this day, as it has always been in previous decades, is the live auction featuring items ranging from animals, gift baskets and other “unique items.” While live animals were always part of the excitement in years past, that is no longer the case. Instead, photos and/or videos of the animals are presented to bidders.
And, as usual, “there is no charge to attend the festival,” Wiedenhoeft said. “It is open to everyone and is intended to build community.”
Helping the Wiedenhoefts chair this year’s festival are Craig and Jennifer Yeszin who will take over the helm next year.