Easterfest returns Saturday after two-year absence

Apr. 7—Easterfest is back.

The annual Holy Spirit Parish fundraiser has been absent the last two years because of the pandemic. But the event returns from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the parish center, 117 N. Beaver St., offering a variety a food, crafts and, new for this year, children's activities.

"We're very excited and I'm particularly appreciative of all the volunteers who do so much work and make all of the goodies and all of the items they have available for people," said Father Joseph McCaffrey, parish pastor. "They really enjoy doing it and they do such a wonderful job."

The children's activities will include selfies with the Easter Bunny from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., coloring Easter eggs at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., an Easter egg hunt at 11 a.m. and the Easter Story and making Resurrection Bread at noon.

Traditional craft items include palm crosses, Easter and spring decor, Easter basket items and stuffed animals.

Food offerings, which are available to eat in or take out, include pierogies, cabbage rolls, haluski, soups, nut rolls, kielbassa, stuffed shells, rice pies, pies (whole or by the slice), cookies and cinnamon rolls, plus a limited supply of Easter bread, butter lambs, horseradish, chocolates and candy.

Traditionally, Easter bread has been one of the day's fastest-selling items. In order to accommodate the demand, parish volunteers have been baking it literally around the clock this week and making it available during pre-event sales hours.

"They started at noon (Sunday), and they work 24 hours (volunteers are divided among three shifts) until Wednesday at 6 p.m.," parish facilitator Jean Pascale said. "Then they're going to bake for the Easterfest on Friday. Then next week they start again on Sunday at noon and they bake through until next Wednesday.

"People come in and buy 10 loaves, 15 loaves. It's hard to keep up with the daily demand. It works like a bakery, it's not on orders. You just come in and get what you want."

This week's Easter bread sales took place Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and, after Easterfest, will resume from noon to 6 p.m. on the same three days next week. The bread is baked and sold at St. Camillus Church, 314 W. Englewood Ave.

Despite the event's two-year hiatus, nothing seems to have been forgotten. But one hurdle has been added.

"With the economy, the prices are just getting to be ridiculous," McCaffrey said, "and it's making it harder and harder for everybody to afford it, and for us to do it in a way that it can be affordable."

For the most part, though, the volunteers have risen to the challenge.

"Most of our food and products, we've been able to hold the price," Pascale said. "We've worked very hard at that, and our volunteers are excellent about going out and putting miles on their own cars to find the best price for the church.

"That is a very important point for us. I think there's only one item that has gone up in price, and that's wedding soup, because of the cost of meat."

Such dedication is typical of the parish volunteers, Pascale added, noting that this week the parish is baking Easter bread, preparing for Easterfest and gearing up for its final Lenten fish fry at St. Vincent de Paul on Friday.

"It's a lot of people dedicated to helping the church, but it's also real community building."