ORCHARD PARK — A 5K race, food truck rally, classic car show and entertainment by Hit n Run and Eric Van Houten are among the highlights of the 25th annual St. John Vianney Lawn Fete, taking place July 20-23.
Festivities will open Thursday, July 20, with the 17th annual 5K Kickoff Run at 6:30 p.m. Runners are asked to assemble by 6:15 p.m. The cost to enter the race is $20 for pre-registered adults ($25 day of race) and $13 for children 14 and under ($15 day of race). Race packets can be picked up from 6 to 7:30 p.m. July 18, or after 3 p.m. July 20 in the St. John Vianney School gym. Runners who register by July 1 will receive a free race T-shirt. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top finishers. Walkers are also invited to participate.
Friday, July 21, will feature a food truck rally from 5 to 10 p.m., classic car show at 6 p.m., and the music of Hit N Run from 7 to 11 p.m.
The food trucks return Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m., with entertainment provided by West Seneca native and rising country music star Eric Van Houten.
An outdoor Mass will be celebrated at noon Sunday, followed by a BW's chicken and rib dinner from 1 to 4 p.m. and music by The New Direction Band, known as "Western New York's Chicago Style Polka Band," from 2 to 5 p.m.
Other weekend-long highlights include games of chance, a beer tent, variety tent, gardening tent, basket raffle and a $25,000 cash giveaway taking place at 5 p.m. Sunday. A kids' tent will feature bounce houses, a trackless train, inflatable obstacle course, games, prizes, Mr. No the Balloon Guy, make-your-own cookies, snow cones, popcorn, cotton candy and much more. There will also be fireworks displays Friday and Saturday evening, weather permitting.
Food vendors scheduled to participate include Lloyd Taco Truck, R&R BBQ, Just Pizza, The Great Foodini, Cold Stone Creamery, House of Munch and The Cheesy Chick.
The parish is going a bit retro with this year's lawn fete in celebrating the quarter-century milestone.
"We're trying to mirror the first year, So, we're bringing back a variety tent that has miscellaneous games," said Debra Popple, chairperson of the event and business manager of St. John's. "I think it will have some old time feel."
Every week in the parish bulletin, a "Did You Know?" offers a look back at past fetes. All this information will be on display at the event itself. All the past chairpeople will also be recognized on Saturday night.
St. John's held its first lawn fete 25 years ago, when three couples - Ron and Kathy Urbanczyk, Jim and Jane Clark, and Larry and Jackie Dubaj — decided to create a profitable and fun lawnfete for the parish. The spent the summer visiting local church picnics for research.
Ron Urbanczyk, Jim Clark and Larry Dubaj presented a plan to then-pastor Father Theodore Rog, calling for a three-day event to include a beer tent, bands and dinners each night, a gambling tent, amusement rides, a variety tent and a car raffle. Father Rog enlisted the help of SJV church organizations to make it work. He said, "I'm in, let's do it! Here is my $50 for the first beer keg and I will cook the spaghetti."
More than 200 people attended that first planning meeting and all the chair openings were filled that evening. The result of the first lawn fete was a $43,021 profit, which paid the parent subsidy for the school and the annual insurance bill.
The rest is history, and 25 years later many of the people who worked the first lawn fete are still involved. During the years there have only been three chairs — Ron Urbanczyk for 10 years, Elana Murphy for 12 years and Debbie Popple for three years.
Thousands of guests are expected for the event. Proceeds continue to pay for insurance for the parish and school. The parish is located at 2950 Southwestern Blvd. in Orchard Park.
For more information on St. John Vianney Parish, visit www.saintjohnvianney.com or call 674-9133. You can also follow the event on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SJVLawnFete for frequent updates. To sign up for the 5K, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 716-674-9133 for more information.