SPRING HILL — Sue Page has been helping out with the St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church Ethnic Festival since its inception 28 years ago. It was a much smaller event back then — a few small tents with children’s activities and crafts, and a small smorgasbord of foods made by members of the congregation.
“It was very, very small, more like a community festival," Page recalled. “But it has really grown tremendously over the years.”
In recent years, the event has become enormous in comparison — attracting more than 25,000 people to the church grounds.
The event includes carnival rides and games, stage acts, karaoke, a second-hand market and mini raffles to win a fire pit, Farberware, a television and other items.
But, of course, it’s all about the food.
The four-day festival features a number of food booths set up under a 120- by 80-foot tent, offering dinners fromPoland, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Spain and Greece. The choices are many — from Polish pierogis and Irish corned beef to Greek gyros, Spanish empanadas and pressed Cuban sandwiches. There also will be American favorites, such as turkey legs, cheeseburgers and fries.
But don’t expect to see food trucks. Like the early years when the event was much smaller, all the food is prepared by members of the St. Joan of Arc congregation.
“We have such a great group of volunteers,” Page said. “We are so blessed. ... We even have Father Patrick Rebel grilling burgers."
Beer, wine and soft drinks will be available, along with a number of desserts, including funnel cakes, which are always a crowd favorite.
And along with the food is continuous entertainments, including the Gypsy Star Band, Chocachatti Hip Hop group, Eddie and the Cruzers, Father Eric’s Band, the Hernando Symphony Brass Band and others.
“It’s a great way to get some food, sit, eat and enjoy the entertainment," Page said. “It really is a lot of fun."
If you go
The 28th-annual St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church Ethnic Festival will be from 5 to 10 p.m. Oct. 17-18, noon to 10 p.m. Oct. 19 and noon to 7 p.m. Oct. 20, at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, 13485 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill. Admission is free. Midway armbands at the gate are $25 Thursday, Friday and Sunday; Saturday armbands are $25 for either noon to 5 p.m. or 5 to 10 p.m., or $30 for noon to 10 p.m. Food prices vary. For information, call the church at (352) 688-0663.
5 p.m. Opening Ceremony, God Bless America and opening prayer by Father Pat Rebel
5:30 p.m. Chocochatti Hip Hop
6:15 p.m. AK Dance Away
7 p.m. Klassic Kountry Kloggers
8 p.m. Eddie and the Cruzers
5 p.m. Music
6 p.m. Dancecraft
6:30 p.m. Dancing Disciples
7:30 p.m. Rusty "V" Karaoke and Music
9:45 p.m. Stringer Band
12:30 p.m. Dibaile Dance School and Ministry
1:15 p.m. AK Dance Away
2 p.m. Dancing Disciples
2:45 p.m. Music
3:30 p.m. Moon’s Tae Kwon Do
4 p.m. Music
5 p.m. Gypsy Star/Serenading the Moon
7 p.m. Music
8 p.m. Father Eric’s Band
12:30 p.m. Music
1:30 p.m. Characters (Ariel the mermaid, a pirate, the unicorn with balloons and a sing-along)
3 p.m. Hernando Symphony Brass Band
4:30 p.m. Just Us Duo
6 p.m. Country Western Music with Rusty "V"
7 p.m. Mini raffle