The Fall Festival, one of the largest events held in Lehigh Acres, promises to be one of the best this year. With plans being started months ago, the Fall Festival at St. Raphael's Church, across from the Walmart on Lee Blvd. opens the night of Nov. 10 at 5:45 p.m. with special ceremonies including a flag raising, the singing of the National Anthem and a ribbon cutting.
George Anderson and his wife, Miriam, have been working to provide top notch entertainment for the event. But George Anderson, said it took a lot of people working since January to make this possible. Anderson says it should be one of the best Fall Festivals in years. It is only the second largest event in Lehigh, next to the week-long Spring Festival held in March each year.
Anderson said the four-day event falls on Veterans Day Weekend and special emphasis are being made to honor veterans and to provide services for veterans and active military people.
All of this will augment the big midway and Ferris Wheel that will light up the sky over the St. Raphael Church campus. The Fall Festival is one of the largest events drawing thousands each year to the 17th annual event.
There's a $5 raffle that can win a couple a seven-day cruise in the western Caribbean.
Anderson said the festival leader is Doug Deblais and there are nearly 25 people on the committee to put on the big event.
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Batey Latin Jazz will provide entertainment at the Fall Festival on Saturday night, Nov. Nov. 12.
Leonardo Requina will perform at the Fall Festival on Sunday night, Nov. 13.
Anderson noted that with the Fall Festival beginning the day before Veterans Day, special emphasis is being put on all veterans.
"To honor our active military personnel as well as veterans, we will hold a special dinner under the big top. It will consist of Papa Paul's BBQ chicken, our pulled pork, cole slaw, baked beans and a beverage," Anderson said. Entertainment will be provided by Northern Lights, an acoustic duo and tickets for the dinner can be purchased in advance at the church office from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reservations can also be made by calling Irene and Mike Wheeler at 239-303-391.
Events planned to celebrate Veterans Day weekend for active and retired military, there will be members of the Lehigh Acres Disabled American Veterans chapter and personnel from the Fort Myers Outpatient VA clinic. They will be on site at the festival, Anderson said, for all four days to help active military personnel and veterans in completing forms for medical benefits and claims for themselves and their families.
Lehigh Regional Medical Center has become a sponsor in addition to The River and Cat Country radio stations.
Anderson has been working tirelessly in bringing in good entertainment for each day of the festival with music to please just about everyone's interest.
Admittance to the festival is free. There is a $3 donation for parking.
"We will have some local entertainment from Lehigh such as singer Patti Snider. Paula Raphael will offer a free Zumba class, with Footnotes dance studio and Hidden Agenda.
Al Deleon from Deleon and Associates is a member of his band and he has been very supportive of the festival, not only this year, but in past years," Anderson said.
He said the festival will also feature other entertainment, such as the Sunshine Cloggers, The TV Calendar Girls, Southwest Florida Fencing Academy and the Dance Warehouse. This year the festival will have a professional sound and light system provided by Ruben and the DJ.
Anderson said that during the evening, there will be live music.
On Friday night, they're featuring county and southern rock with Jay Frost and 3 Below. On Saturday, there will be dancing to the Latin music of Batey Latin Jazz and on Sunday night, Leonardo Requena will be followed by Union del Norte.
There's going to be a bake sale as in other years and a silent auction is planned with plenty of food Haitian, Latin, Italian, Hispanic, Papa Paul's BBQ as well as hot dogs, hamburgers and spaghetti dinners.
And as for the whole family with the children in mind, Anderson said there will be plenty of rides with special prices.
Anderson said he really believes this will be the best Fall Festival ever put on by St. Raphael's Church.
"We're hoping to see big crowds each night. The weather's going to be great and so is the entertainment. The festival has a website at www.srfallfest.com that offers even more information about the popular upcoming event.
As stated earlier, it takes place across from Walmart. The address of the church is 214 Lee Blvd., and when motorists enter the church campus, there will be plenty of volunteers to show you where to park.
"It's just going to be a great event, the best ever that we have had in all the years we've held it. And the thanks goes to all the volunteers who have worked so hard to put it together," Anderson said.
Not only is it an attraction for Lehigh, lots of visitors from all over Lee County. It is one of the major events in Lee County each fall.