Carnival rides and elephant ears are coming to town as White Lake gears up for St. Patrick Catholic Church’s 29th annual Summer’s End Fair. The event will take place at the church from Sept. 22-25.
“Everyone is buzzing,” said Mary Friedenstab, co-chair of the event. “You can just tell it’s getting close to fair time. The kids start talking about it.”
The fair offers a variety of indoor and outdoor entertainment for adults and children.
“We’ll have the traditional rides,” Friedenstab said. McDonagh’s Amusement has been the supplier for the Summer's End Fair for many years. “We never know exactly which (rides) they’re bringing into town. They know what we like, and they run a very nice, clean operation.”
Inside Paddy Hall, the church will hold a food court offering Mexican food, Polish food and sandwich booths.
“We’ll also have an American grill,” she said. “We’ll have pastries that parishioners have brought in, and there will be ice cream, pizza and a lot of variety.”
Parishioners came together in the St. Patrick church kitchen this past Saturday to make perogies for the food court. The elder generations took time to show the younger generations how make the Polish dish.
"It's a tradition," said Cathleen Stopchinski, faith formation secretary. "My whole family comes to the fair each year specifically to eat the perogies."
Booths will be set up in the gymnasium with a face-painting station, books for resale and games. Indoors, there will be various card games and a Texas Hold 'em tournament for the adults.
Orville Borg, owner of Flowers of the Lakes in White Lake, has been volunteering at the Summer’s End Fair for 15 years. Borg, a longtime St. Patrick Church parishioner, will sit at the dealer’s table again this year.
“I’ll be dealing in the Vegas room on Thursday and Friday night,” he said. “It’s just fun getting together with all the people in the community.”
The church will also offer live outdoor entertainment.
“We have our entertainment tent right outside Paddy Hall,” Friedenstab said. “We try to bring in a lot of local performers, and it’s free to get in the tent.”
The entertainment tent will also have a television for sports fans. “That’s very popular with the dads. They can bring their family to the fair and still watch football.”
The 3-D television will later be raffled.
The event, which began as a family picnic and corn roast, has evolved into the church’s largest fundraiser of the year.
“It just kept growing and growing and now it is what it is,” Friedenstab said.
About 700 parish members volunteer each day to help the event run smoothly.
“We get volunteers signed up at the masses,” she said. “There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work, but we’ve done it for 29 years, and it’s a well-oiled machine.”
The event, which brings in approximately 10,000 people each year, supports many parish expenses, including youth programs, parish employee salaries and building maintenance.
“Most importantly, it gets our families together at the end of the summer,” Friedenstab said. “When the fair rolls into town, it really ramps everyone up. It’s a highlight in the community, and we really look forward to it.”
The Summer's End Fair schedule is as follows:
Thursday, Sept. 22
Carnival rides — 5-11 p.m.
Texas Hold’em — 7 p.m.-1 a.m.
Friday, Sept. 23
Carnival rides — 6 p.m.-midnight
Texas Hold’em — 7 p.m.-1 a.m.
Saturday, Sept. 24
Carnival rides — noon-midnight
Texas Hold’em — 1 p.m.-1 a.m.
Sunday, Sept. 25
Carnival rides — 1 p.m.-7 p.m.
All raffle drawings — 7 p.m.
For more information, visit stpatrickwhitelake.org.