colorful ride awaits unpacking Tuesday afternoon
at St. John Vianney Parish, 1755 N. Calhoun Road,
is a time-honored summer tradition in Wisconsin, on par
with baseball and apple pie.
year, like clockwork, church festivals sprout up at a
number of parishes throughout the region as the
temperatures soar. Many of the festivals have been a
part of the landscape for decades.
has a church festival culture,” said Traci
Huntemann-Piatt, a parishioner at St. Mary Parish in
Waukesha. “You don’t see that everywhere.”
and her husband, Joseph Piatt, serve on one of several
planning committees for St. Mary’s three-day festival,
slated this year from June 23 through June 25, on the
church grounds, 225 S. Hartwell Ave.
church festivals are scattered throughout the summer
months, many are held around the same time each year.
St. John Vianney Parish, 1755 N. Calhoun Road, holds the
distinction of having one of the first festivals of the
season. Its three-day event kicks off Friday and runs
has become a real community event for people of all
ages,” said parishioner John Clarke, who has been
planning some of the logistics for St. John’s festival
for more than a decade.
of their longevity and popularity, at least one church
festival is held across the Milwaukee metro area most
weekends of the summer.
Milwaukee County, a number of church festivals are also
on tap, including one at Milwaukee-based St. Roman
Parish, 4300 S. 20th St., from June 15-18, and St.
Bernadette, 8200 W. Denver Ave., from June 23 through
many of the region’s church festivals are linked to
Catholic houses of worship, other faiths have also been
part of the tradition. The Annunciation Green Orthodox
Church in Wauwatosa, for instance, will hold its
longtime Greek Fest from June 23 through June 25 at the
Wisconsin State Fair grounds.
church festivals have a number of common threads —
carnival games, for example — Huntemann-Piatt said
each has carved out its own niche.
one of them has its own character and its own keynote
things,” Huntemann- Piatt said. St. Mary’s, for
example, is known for its vast array of menu items,
including rotisserie chicken prepared the old-fashioned
church festivals come and go in the blink of an eye,
planning out some of the most granular of details is
actually a nearly yearlong
start planning for the next festival right after the
summer,” Clarke said. “There is a lot that has to be
figured out, including signing contracts for the next
year and getting the vendors on board.”
is also an important part of ensuring the festivals are
cost-effective for the host churches and the attendees.
like a mini Summerfest in some ways,” Huntemann- Piatt
said. “We work very hard to make sure it’s very
affordable. It’s designed to raise money (for the
parish), but the goal is also to have a fun,
familyfriendly community event.”
most of the churches, the annual festivals are one of
the largest fundraisers. Proceeds go toward a range of
efforts, including operations within the church itself
and outreach activities locally and across the globe.
a substantial fundraiser for us,” Clarke said. “It
allows us to continue the mission.”
the broader community, Huntemann-Piatt said the goal is
to share the Gospel with people who might not step
inside a church on a regular basis.
a little bit of a subtle evangelization effort in what
we do,” she said.