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Fall Festival opens with chilly weather

November 21, 2018
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Brisk weather came just in time for opening night of Saint Raphael's Fall Festival last Thursday. This year marks the local festival's 24th anniversary and for many residents it's the perfect place to bring the family for a day of carnival rides, games and an assortment of foods and other activities.

"I think what makes this festival a little different is that is geared towards young kids and the family. We have carnival rides for the children, bigger kids and of course adults," said Saint Raphael Church's charter member Doug Blais.

Blais, who has worked the festival for many years, said that this is also an opportunity for the different church groups to come together.

"Tonight is kind of a warm up for the event. So far it's a decent turnout. We have a couple church groups hosting events here tonight, including a bake sale from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and our popular silent auction from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Besides enjoying the numerous rides and activities, festival attendees got to listen to live entertainment under the tent. The music group Moonchild played from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

According to Blais, the festival will have various headliners throughout the weekend.

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"This year we brought back one of our more popular performances, the Irish Step Dancers. We'll also have Wink News here on Saturday to judge the pie eating and bubble gum contest.

Another festival highlight is the international food court, which features barbeque, Italian, Haitian, Jamaican, and Spanish foods. There is also a beer tent for the adults.

According to Renaissance Committee President Oscar Gamble, the festival originally began as a small charity fundraiser, but has quickly grown to become a staple in the community.

"We started 24 years ago with the same carnival crew, Premium Shows of America," said Gamble.

Premium Shows owner Steve Lisko and its General Manager Ken Arendas remember a time when the small festival consisted of just a handful of rides.

Gamble said that this year's activities are similar to previous years aside from their popular church hosted charity vehicle raffle.

"This year we decided to instead hold a 50/50 raffle, where we match the sale of the ticket price. Half of the proceeds will go to charity, the other half towards the raffle prize," said Gamble.

The festival was a held at 2514 Lee Blvd, Lehigh Acres, FL 33971



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