It’s the season of fall festivals

Sister Mary Elizabeth Ann McCullough RSM drives the tractor hauling St. Joseph Fall Festival attendees on hay rides. Sister Mary Elizabeth Ann said she learned her tractor-operating skills at the convent.
Photo by Deacon Patrick Murphy-Racey

Crafts, games, entertainment, and, of course, food proved to be the perfect recipe for fund-raising fall festivals held in parishes across the diocese in September and October.

Many parishes took advantage of the spectacular autumn weather and the fact the Tennessee’s football Vols were playing away at Mississippi State to hold events Oct. 11-13.

Azure skies, cool breezes, and brilliant autumn foliage surrounding the grounds of St. Albert the Great Church in Halls provided the perfect backdrop for St. Joseph School’s annual Fall Festival Oct. 13, one of the school’s major fundraisers.

St. Mary Church in Oak Ridge held its 62nd annual fall festival Oct. 11-13, highlighted by the Road Rally fun run, an ice cream social, spaghetti supper, silent and live auctions, a bake sale and games for children and adults.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church and School in Chattanooga held the annual Oktoberfest Ram Run fundraiser fun run/walk with a bratwurst sale. The Council of Catholic Women of St. Therese Parish in Clinton held a rummage sale Oct. 12-13 to raise money for improvements to the family center and for activities held at the church. The Blessed Sacrament Council of Catholic Women sponsored its annual Fall Bazaar Oct. 13, where rummage-sale items, furniture, potted plants and other items were sold to benefit the Harriman church.

The Knights of Columbus Council 8152 in Crossville held its 22nd annual Oktoberfest Oct. 12-13, with German food, music, and dancing. Holy Family Parish in Seymour held its annual Fall Craft Fair, Granny’s Attic and Bake Sale Oct. 12-14, with new and used items, including household items, crafts, handmade quilts and gift baskets featured. And St. Mary Church in Athens held its annual fall festival Oct. 7 after Mass, featuring a silent auction, a Chinese auction, games and food.

St. Mary Church in Johnson City held its Fall Festival Sept. 29, with a barbecue dinner and booths while Notre Dame Church in Greeneville held its Fall Festival of Nations Sept. 22, where events included international food tasting, a yard sale, a silent auction, a barbecue dinner, and bluegrass entertainment.

Visitors to the St. Joseph Fall were treated to food, games, entertainment, inflatable bounce houses — and Father Chris Michelson’s secret recipe chocolate chip cookies.

A hayride was available around the church grounds, with Sister Mary Elizabeth Ann McCullough RSM driving the tractor like a professional. Sister Mary Elizabeth Ann, principal of St. Joseph School in North Knoxville, was happy to do the job.

“This allows me to do two things I love, “ she said. “Be around the kids — and drive a tractor!” When asked where she learned her skills for the job, Sister Mary Elizabeth Ann laughed and said, “At the convent!”

The grounds at St. Albert the Great Church, which is one of the parishes supporting St. Joseph School along with Holy Ghost and Immaculate Conception, were used to accommodate more people and parking. In the past, the festival was held on the school grounds.

The pastor of St. Albert the Great, Father Chris Michelson, who also is president of St. Joseph School, continued building on a tradition he started at St. Joseph in recent years — baking and selling his specialty chocolate chip cookies with ingredients he keeps close to his vestment.

Father Michelson apologetically said, “Sorry – I can’t tell you the recipe” when asked what goes into the tasty morsels. But he did recall how he started baking cookies for the children at St. Mary School in Oak Ridge during Catholic School Week, and they were so popular he brought his culinary art to St. Joseph. Dozens of his cookies were sold Saturday.

Another tradition was the crowning of the Fall Festival Prince and Princess. St. Joseph students “solicited” votes through donations made to their ballot, with the money going to the school. Congratulations are in order for Luke Hadley and Emma Ackerman, who were chosen prince and princess. Landon Vandergriff and Angelina Lopez were runners up.

Entertainment was provided by local talent, including 80’s band Old School, as well as school children, parents and parishioners singing karaoke. The Knox County Sheriff’s Office dispatched one of its helicopters, which delighted children when it buzzed the grounds before landing and distributing promotional items from the law enforcement agency.

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