Members of The Dojo perform a comical fighting routine for a crowd Friday evening during the St. Joachim Church’s annual Harvest Festival. (John Rieping)
In recognition of Madera County’s farming community, and in celebration of a successful growing season, St. Joachim Catholic Church hosted its annual Harvest Festival.
The event, was held on Friday and Saturday nights at St. Joachim School. It was a chance for the people of Madera to partake of food, beer, wine, games, and live music. The festival was also a fundraiser for St. Joachim, which is the largest congregation in Madera.
“I’m very aware that the grape harvest is starting this week,” said the Rev. John Warburton, one of the priests to oversee the event. “Gondolas loaded with grapes are coming in this week.”
The festival, by Warburton’s estimates, brought in more than 10,000 people over two days.
“It’s promoted in the whole community,” Warburton said. “So it’s not meant to be like: ‘oh, you have to be a part of the parish in order to come.’ It’s advertised for the whole community with posters and newspaper articles. And it’s very popular. I would say about, between 7:30 and 8, there’ll just be a sea of heads.”
Among those attending was St. Joachim parishioner Linda Zacharia, whose husband, Zak, provided security for the event. Zacharia brought her mother, Mary Foster, and her two granddaughters, Chana and Alyssia Crevolin.
According to Zacharia, she has been attending the festivals for no less than two decades, and now includes her grandchildren in that tradition.
“It was nice to have the addition of the bounce houses for the kids, and lots of good food,” Zacharia said, and said she would definitely come back again. “Absolutely. Every year, until I die.”
Another parishioner to come, and to contribute, was quilter Kathleen Lopes, who donated a specially made quilt to the auction for the church. The quilt, designed to resemble a Native American basket weave, was started by Lopes in April, and wasn’t finished until July.
“I enjoy quilting. It’s a fun hobby. I give away a lot of quilts,” said Lopes. “I give away more than I keep.”
Lopes also makes quilts for Valley Children’s Hospital, but says the piece that she donated to St. Joachim is her biggest quilt yet.
The final sum of the festival’s earnings is still being calculated. However, last year, the Harvest Festival brought in a net gain of more than $51,900, according to St. Joachim business administrator Enrique Medina. Medina said the money will go to the church’s building funds, which in turn will free up money from the church’s general budget for community outreach and charity.