The 36th San Juan Bautista Hispanic Festival is set to begin Wednesday with live music, food, games and lots of entertainment for all ages.
“For our parish, it's all about being a community of faith and hospitality to all those around us - it's all about love in action in our community and beyond," says Rev. Allan F. Wolfe, who is pastor of the church.
An estimated 8,000 people attend the festival every year.
Food stands will be offering a variety of traditional dishes from Mexico, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Cuba, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Peru and, of course, United States. Popular food items include Colombian empanadas and chorizo arepas, Mexican tacos and enchiladas, Puerto Rican pasteles and pinchos (shish kabobs).
The four-day annual event at 425 S. Duke St. in Lancaster is free and open to the public. It runs from Wednesday through Saturday. Hours are: Wednesday, 6-10 p.m.; Thursday, 6-10 p.m.; Friday, 6-11 p.m.; and Saturday, 4-11 p.m.
The event features music and dance on stage every night.
Wednesday is Faith Night, featuring members of the church choir. Thursday will feature the PA Mambo Orquesta, a folkloric group from San Joseph Catholic Church in Hanover, and a local salsa dance group.
On Friday, the festival will feature Mariachi Flores, a traditional mariachi group from Mexico, and local band Los Monstros.
The event culminates Saturday with media personality and popular merenguero Shino Aguakate, bachata singer Felix Martinez and Grupo Afinque.
The festival also features a grand raffle drawing for a $14,500 cash prize or a 2020 Toyota Corolla, which will take place Saturday at 11 p.m. Raffle tickets are sold every night at $2 per ticket or $10 for a book of six tickets.
How it helps
The annual festival is the primary fundraiser for the parish.
“Though the times have changed, our festival's vision to serve and give back to our community remains the same,” says Rev. Wolfe.
“All of our Festival proceeds go back in to our parish, which in turn goes into our community programs,” he says.
Funds raised through the festival support San Juan Bautista’s community programs that assist families and individuals in the local community. The church currently offers 25 youth programs and 36 adult programs, all of which are free.
Those programs range from a food bank to a free bilingual after-school program to religious education, preschool/daycare and a free summer camp for at-risk youth.
Other services provided by the church include job training workshops and immigrant and refugee assistance.
The summer camp is an extension of the church’s free food program, which provides breakfast and lunch to each camper. An estimated 8,000 free meals are served each summer.
For more information, call San Juan Bautista Catholic Church at 392-4118.