Fall means festivals in the Tracy area, and this weekend will feature one of the biggies.
The St. Bernard’s Catholic Church Fall Festival will kick off Friday night with Mass followed by live entertainment by Tracy’s Classik Street and Victoria Matthews and friends.
The festival sprung up on the church’s front lawn more than 40 years ago and now takes over the entire property. Festivalgoers can browse the more than 50 booths, taste margaritas and gorge themselves with food. The festival represents people with many different cultures, and each will sell their best food, said Gina Rosenow, festival organizer for the past 21 years.
“It’s a time when we all pull together,” she said. “It brings all the different ethnic backgrounds together, and it brings the Tracy community to our church.”
Nanette Speaker has made the fall festival a family tradition for the past 17 years. She spent most of those years working the festival’s margarita booth.
“It’s the most wonderful family event,” Speaker said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s the kind of work that you love to do.”
More than 400 volunteers bake, build, entertain and work booths over the weekend to make the festival happen. Without the volunteers, Rosenow said, there wouldn’t be a fall festival.
They can also enjoy the festival’s longstanding features like the beer garden, high-energy entertainment and games for the youth. New to this year’s festival will be slushee drinks, more games and a few entertainers. Rosenow said she tries to make the festival bigger and better every year.
“You have to progress every year,” she said. “I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
The festival will end Sunday evening with a live auction and a $50-a-plate dinner fundraiser.
Rosenow’s goal is to raise $225,000 for St. Bernard’s new church. Last year’s fall festival raised about $200,000 for St. Bernard’s school and youth programs.