As a high school student, Robert McDonnell, attended the St. Christopher’s Parish Feast in Baldwin every year with his friends. Now 47, McDonnell returns to the fair with a different crowd — his mother Joanne McDonnell, 71, and his daughter, Jacqueline, 7.
Jacqueline and Robert McDonnell sat down at one of the game booths and played a friendly game of water balloon racing while Joanne McDonnell watched in amusement. The moment they shared bridged a gap between generations—a moment of fun for all ages.
“There are a lot of good memories here,” Robert McDonnell said. “Everything still looks the same.”
On Thursday, St. Christopher’s Parish in Baldwin kicked off its 38th annual Parish Feast. The festival, located behind the church on Gale Avenue, will go on through Sunday.
Underneath a cloudy sky, members of the parish and the community filled the lot behind the church. The entire fair is run by volunteers from the community, and many are familiar faces.
Ed Perez, 44, has been volunteering at the fair for the past four years. Perez runs a special game where participants shoot balls into painted muffin tins for cash prizes. His outgoing persona has led fairgoers to give him a playful nickname.
“They call me the ‘Muffin Man,’” Perez said, pointing to his shirt baring his name. “That’s how they know me around here.”
Other attractions at the fair include a variety of rides, games and live entertainment. Every night there will be a different performance from local bands around the area.
The food is an attraction in itself — the smell of freshly made zeppoles and Italian sausage filled the eating area. This year, the fair has introduced a Greek food booth as well. All of the food is cooked on site at the fair and is donated to the parish.
“I love to cook, sausage and peppers are my thing,” said Sal Oddo, 55, who has run the sausage booth for the past 18 years. “The festival just gets better and better every year.”
Toward the back of the fair, almost hidden by the food court, there is a large tent that is home to a menagerie of “Attic Treasures” – donated items that are put up for sale. Old books, glasses, candlesticks, Christmas decorations and more are put on display for the community to purchase. All of the proceeds go directly to the parish.
“The generosity is incredible,” said church volunteer Suzanne Golder. “We only started taking donations at the beginning of July and there is just so much to offer.”
In the days to come, there is more to look forward to. On Sunday, there will be a special raffle drawing to win a 2012 Ford Focus, along with a “50/50” raffle.
“This feast brings the parish community together,” said Msgr. Steven Camp, 53, of St. Christopher’s Parish. “It brings people back to visit too — all different types of people celebrating in this diverse town of Baldwin.”
Above: Ed Perez, 44, is the "Muffin Man" at St. Christopher's Parish Feast in Baldwin. (July 19, 2012)