Make us your home page
Instagram

Nativity's Novemberfest delivers family fun to Brandon

BRANDON — It never fails.

Every year as Novemberfest draws near, R.J. Brauneker can bank on the return of that same child-like adrenaline rush he's thrived on for close to 40 years.

"I remember looking out of my classroom window and it looked larger than life and now I love seeing the same kinds of smiles on other kids' faces that were on mine at their ages," said Brauneker, once a Nativity Catholic School student and now the parent of two other Nativity graduates, who for many years has served as director of an affair organizers say is one of Hillsborough County's largest family-friendly annual attractions.

Brauneker again will see those faces Wednesday (Nov. 16) when the 47th annual Novemberfest starts its five-day run on the grounds of the school and Nativity Catholic Church, at the southeast corner of State Road 60 and Bryan Road.

The popular affair, which is expected to draw more than 100,000 attendees and raise about $155,000 to help fund the school and other on-campus youth programs, will be action-packed with games, performances and contests, plus the availability of a broad range of craft beers and a wide international assortment of food, prepared on site.

New amid the almost 30 midway rides — which include the returning giant spinning-disc Moonraker — is the 52-foot-high Nitro.

Brauneker describes it as the ultimate "thrill ride" that swings back and forth while rotating in a circle.

"It will get you sick for sure," he joked.

Also on tap Friday night is the return of Tampa-based Soul Circus Cowboys southern rock band, led by Nativity alum Billy McKnight, and rockers Southern Train on Saturday night.

Nativity parishioner Sherry Stewart serves as the event's food fare chairman, and has done so for 36 years. She's thrilled to the extent the food tent has been enlarged and broadened in its selections from basic hamburgers, hotdogs and sausages to a myriad of tasty and unique treats representing multiple ethnic groups.

"It's a lot of work, but I keep coming back because everybody here is like family," she said.

Greg Harrell, operations chair, can attest to the massive collaborative effort it requires to organize and stage an event of such magnitude.

The year-long 9,000 volunteer man hours that go into the project, he believes, tells the story in itself.

The set-up alone requires several weeks, Harrell noted.

"The man who set up the tents last year said he could not believe how much electrical equipment was involved," he said.

Harry Dunlap, a 50-year Nativity church member, recalls a time when the event, staged on a much simpler scale, was held twice yearly and appropriately titled the spring and the fall carnival.

"I'd take a week off before and after to help out and I loved it," said the Valrico resident, also recollecting when on a particular Saturday night Father James Lara, a former priest at the church, announced he would hold a midnight mass so carnival attendees didn't have to get up early on Sunday morning.

"It's no longer Nativity's carnival, it's Brandon's Novemberfest and my wife and I and our kids still come back every year," Dunlap said. "It's like a reunion."

Contact Joyce McKenzie at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

>>If you go

Novemberfest

Nativity Catholic School's 47th annual carnival and food fest is open to the general public from 4-10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. Admission and parking is free. Thursday is First Responders Appreciation Day and Sunday is Military Appreciation and Alumni Day. In recognition of their service, honorees may buy all day unlimited-ride armbands, normally priced at $23, on site for $17. For the general public, armbands at the discounted price of $17 may also be purchased from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the church social hall Sunday (Nov. 13). Regularly priced armbands can be bought on site for $23. Food tickets, priced at $1 each or 22 tickets for $20, may be purchased at the event.

Nativity's Novemberfest delivers family fun to Brandon 11/14/16 [Last modified: Monday, November 14, 2016 11:20am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 24

    Events

    Zac Brown Band: The country, folk and Southern rockers embark on the "Welcome Home" tour in support of the album. 7 p.m., MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $27.50-$77.50. (813) 740-2446.

    Handout photo of the Zac Brown Band, performing at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on 9/24/17. Credit: Shore Fire Media
  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 23

    Events

    Smithsonian Museum Day Live: Museums across the nation partner with the Smithsonian to offer free admission for one day. Among them are Florida Holocaust Museum, Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs.Cracker Country in Tampa, Ringling Museum of Art. Note: Dalí Museum is free for Pinellas County …

    The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg is among the museums participating in the Smithsonian's Museum Day Live, offering free admission. (LANCE ROTHSTEIN   |  Special to the Times)
  3. Tampa Repertory's 'Flying' soars in some places, sputters in others

    Stage

    TAMPA — Tampa Repertory Theatre has always insisted on putting on plays that mean something. Several shows over the last couple of years have zeroed in on the social and cultural baggage that comes with being female (The Children's Hour, Silent Sky and Grounded come to mind). None of those …

    The Southeastern premiere of Flying, Sheila Cowley's play at Tampa Repertory Theatre about veterans of the Women's Air Force Service Pilots, includes (from left) Holly Marie Weber, Rosemary Orlando, and Becca McCoy. Photo by Megan Lamasney.
  4. After 22 years, it's last call for beloved Ybor venue New World Brewery

    Music & Concerts

    YBOR CITY — Steve Bird spreads his tools across a patio table. He has awnings to unbolt and paraphernalia to unpry, from the busted Bop City neon by the stage to the Simpsons "El Duffo o Muerte" mural in the courtyard. He'll uproot a fountain and dismantle a roof and attempt to keep his bar intact. The …

    Various decor and memorabilia fill the walls and shelves at New World Brewery in Ybor City.
Long time music venue and hangout New World Brewery in Ybor City will be closing it's doors and moving locations. Patrons enjoy one of the last events before New World Brewery changes its location to Busch Blvd in Tampa.  [Photo Luis Santana | Times]