MARION — Seventeen years is a long time to go without fun.
Or, in the case of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Marion, to go without Fun Days.
The longtime staple of St. Joe’s parish life was discontinued after 2001, but the 2,000-family community is bringing back Fun Days this Friday through Sunday with many of the traditional events, such as carnival rides and “fair food,” according to Brian Reynolds, one of the Fun Days organizers.
A core group of parishioners has been working on reviving Fun Days for about three years, he said.
“People were saying, ‘Hey, we had fun with Fun Days’ and that became a groundswell to bring it back,” Reynolds said. Many people remembered attending Fun Days as a child and wanted to share that experience with their children. Others saw it as a way to build the parish community, to work and socialize together and to raise funds.
There was a feeling the parish needed something to bring members together “as a parish, as display of our faith and hospitality,” Reynolds added. “The way we think about this is evangelization, as faith, family and community.”
The festival will kick off at 4 p.m. Friday and the first evening will include a Kids’ Fun Run followed by a Neon 5k at 7:30 p.m. Carnival rides, games for kids and adults, bingo, beverages and food will be available Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday. There’s also a raffle with a $25,000 first prize.
In addition to kids’ games and adult activities, the festival will include Veritas, a young-adult area with a variety of musical performers, arcade games and food.
The challenge essentially was to launch a three-day event. A small group of parishioners worked to make the case for a large-scale event and to lay the groundwork. One part of the preparation, Reynolds said, was to volunteer at the St. Jude’s Sweet Corn Festival in Cedar Rapids to get a feel for putting on a parish event.
For more information on the festival, visit http://stjosephfundays.org/.
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