Ah, the church festival circuit.
If you had to pick one thing synonymous with summer-time fun in Kenosha, that would be a great choice.
And this weekend, the 2022 Kenosha church festival circuit wraps up with one of the city’s best traditions, the annual Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii Parish Festival, scheduled to run Friday through Sunday (Aug. 12-14) at Holy Rosary, 2224 45th St.
The festival will run from 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and then from noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday.
The annual event will feature live entertainment all weekend, as well as beer, soda, water and a raffle drawing with a top cash prize of $7,500 to conclude the festival at 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
But the main draw to the Holy Rosary Festival is the delicious selection of food.
Ruffolo’s 2, a classic Kenosha Italian restaurant, is providing pizza, and the festival will also feature homemade selections with beef, meatballs, sausage, smoked pork sandwiches, Caprese salad and roasted corn.
Cannolis will be available for dessert, and the festival will also feature a bakery booth with all kinds of baked goods. Homemade empanadas, a hit at the Holy Rosary Festival in the past, will also be back to satisfy taste buds this weekend, and the festival will also be serving up the ever-popular fried dough.
And the signature food event of the festival will be a spaghetti dinner on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
“The main draw would be the food,” Holy Rosary Chairperson Ron Caronti, who’s been in charge of the festival since 2006, said in a recent interview. “That’s one of the biggest things that Holy Rosary’s noted for. We try to do all the food ourselves. We try to make it from scratch, if we can.”
While the mouth-watering food is the main draw, live music will be playing all weekend to keep Holy Rosary Festival patrons entertained.
Here is the schedule of live music:
- Friday, 6:30-10 p.m.: Doo-Wop Daddies
- Saturday, 5-6:45 p.m.: Joey Belotti & the Change Machine
- Saturday, 6:45-10 p.m.: Vinyl Remix
- Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m.: Willie Sterba
- Sunday, 3-5:30 p.m.: The Chevelles
- Sunday, 6-9:30 p.m.: Good Vibez
The Holy Rosary Festival dates back to 1937, in the tradition of Medieval Catholic Italy church festivals, when the inaugural event was chaired by Francesco Lupi.
In the early days of the Holy Rosary Festival, a ravioli dinner was served to the public at the low price of 50 cents per person. Two bicycles were also raffled off, and the 1937 festival garnered $844 for the parish, not an insignificant dollar figure during that Depression-era time.
Profits from the festival began to increase each year, reaching nearly $7,000 by 1942. The festival was then put on hold until 1948 because of World War II and its immediate aftermath.
But it returned, and by the early 1950s, Holy Rosary parishioners were bringing in food voluntarily for the annual summer festival, and Holy Rosary’s “Noodle Makers” had become famous in Kenosha.
That tradition has lived on and has only grown into what the Holy Rosary Festival is today. Obviously, it’s a huge annual event for the parish.
“It’s important for the operating expenses of the parish,” Caronti said. “It’s a key dollar figure, that’s for sure.”
Like everything else, the Holy Rosary Festival was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was held last summer when other parishes were unfortunately forced to cancel for a second straight year.
But the church festivals have all returned in full force this summer, and Holy Rosary will be no exception to close out the summer circuit.
“It seems to be, from what I can see from all the other events, that everyone’s coming out,” Caronti said. “People are spending money, and people are coming out to do stuff.
“… We want to thank the volunteers. Without volunteers running the festival, we wouldn’t have a festival. That’s a big thing. Without the year-after-year families stepping up, sometimes relatives, sometimes friends of the family, everyone pitches in.
“And then we have a very good board that’s been kind of the same individuals for a lot of years. They all work together well.”