WARNER ROBINS -- Sacred Heart Catholic School has served educational and spiritual needs in Middle Georgia for 60 years.
For 58 of those years, the school’s annual fall festival has been a focal point for students and the Sacred Heart community as well as for families in the wider community.
“It started out as little more than bobbing for apples in the hallway,” said Ashley Lopez, president of Sacred Heart’s Home and School group, the school’s parent-teacher organization.
“Now, we normally have 10,000 people attend and have all kinds of games, rides, food, arts and crafts, student projects, a raffle, silent auction, Granny’s Attic, lots of entertainment and a whole bunch more to see and do. It’s a fundraiser, but it’s geared to be a great day of fun for everyone. There really is something for everyone from toddlers to grownups and shoppers to families looking for something fun to do together.”
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Lopez said entry is free to Saturday’s festival which spreads across about 20 acres of church property. There is a cost for rides, food, games, booth items and other activities.
She said there are 20-plus rides, including a 250-foot zip line, mechanical bulldog (similar to a mechanical bull ride but more family- and youngster-friendly) and a very popular rock wall that is increasing from a four to a six-sided structure so more can climb with less wait.
The day includes approximately 50 performing groups, from cheerleaders to dance to music groups; 12 games, from bingo to cake walks to carnival-style games; a raffle with a $2,000 grand prize; more than 50 arts and crafts vendors; and a wide variety of food vendors and more.
She said ride wristbands for the day are $20 for those 6 and up, $5 for the Kiddie Courtyard geared to 3- to 5-year-olds and free for the 2 and under Kiddie Courtyard. Game cards are $5 for all 12 games.
In addition, there’s an all-day silent auction for items ranging from professional and college football tickets, north Georgia and Carolinas cabin rentals, cruises and merchandise.
There’s also the opportunity to buy a just-released $20 cookbook featuring 600 recipes from parishioners, parents, students and faculty.
The book’s cover features a painting of Sacred Heart’s former sanctuary done by sixth-grader Annabelle Balducci.
“Sacred Heart receives no federal, state or local funding so the festival helps keep tuition affordable for lower income families and the large number of military families who attend,” Lopez said. “It helps us cover the shortfall in the school’s operating budget due to our tuition relief and grant programs. We’re shooting to raise $60,000.”
The fall festival weekend also includes Granny’s Attic, a rummage sale that runs Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lopez said there’s a price cut on already low-cost items at noon Saturday. She said items range from TVs and other electronics to clothes to furniture and other household items.
“But all in all, it’s really about community and having fun with the result that the school is benefited which also benefits the community,” Lopez said. “It’s win-win.”
The Rev. Fred Nijem, pastor at Sacred Heart, also sees the event as win-win.
“Our Sacred Heart School Fall Festival offers a great opportunity for fun and fellowship for the whole family,” he said. “The festival has also supported the growth and development of hundreds of young men and women in their faith and as good citizens of our community.”
Lopez said the school serves K-3 through eighth-grade students with about 200 enrolled each year.
Among past graduates is the reigning Miss America, Betty Cantrell, who graduated in 2008. Though former students are big attendees at the festival, Lopez said Cantrell won’t likely make it this year though her presence is felt at the school.
“My son, Landon, discovered he has Betty’s science book from when she was here -- her name’s in the front,” Lopez said. “He thinks it’s pretty cool he has her book, a famous person’s book. We’re all very proud of her.”
Contact Michael W. Pannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: 205 S. Davis Drive, Warner Robins
INFORMATION: 478-923-09668; www.facebook.com/SacredHeartCatholicSchoolAnnualFallFestival