Annual festival, with the help of volunteers

LIMA — An annual fundraiser for Parish, St. Gerard has kept its tradition of food, fun and family, all with the help of volunteers.

St. Gerard Festival co-chair Kelly Stolly said the festival started just after her seventh-grade year as a student.

“I was going into my eighth-grade year when they had the very first festival, but it was like one little tent,” Stolly said. “I’ve been involved pretty much through the years.”

Stolly said the event has taken place for the past 43 years. Each year the festival comes back to life with the help of community members.

”We have so many volunteers throughout the year that run their own booths,” Stolly said. “Then they get others to help. It is all volunteer. There are no paid positions, but it is well worth it. The biggest thing is that it is income for the school and for the parish. It is also a community builder. We get people from all of Northwest Ohio who know about the festival, and they like to come.”

Co-chair Jason Davis said he joined the board just two years ago to help bring the festival back after the COVID pandemic.

This year, the traditional attractions remained the same, including the notable St. Gerard chicken wings. One volunteer, Phil Thomas, said he has helped with the festival for more than 30 years. Thomas also said he began helping with the “wing tent” five years ago.

Although the seasoning remains a secret, Thomas shared the process of preparation.

“We season them and let them marinate a little bit and spray the wings to keep them moist,” Thomas said.

Another volunteer, AnnRose Leyk, recently graduated high school and decided to give back by working in the “kids tent.”

“I love working with little kids,” Leyk said. “Some little kids are too small to ride the rides, so they come here to play.”

St. Gerard Festival will remain open throughout the weekend at the parish, 240 W. Robb Ave., Lima.

Reach Precious Grundy at 567-242-0351.