SHERIDAN - While beaches may be bustling with summer fun, they might pale in comparison to the level of fun held at a retirement home.
The Columban Sisters hosted their 58th annual Spring Festival on Sunday on the grounds of St. Columban's on the Lake, as part of their fundraising drive for their work at the retirement home and in the 12 mission countries where they serve. This year's festivities featured both new and exciting attractions and events that were bigger and better than ever before, drawing people from all over the area.
"This was a record-breaking festival for us, in terms of turnout and funds raised," said Mary Hosler, the new director of mission advancement for the Columban Sisters. "Our thanks truly goes out to the sponsors and volunteers who donated their efforts, and a huge thanks to the community in general, for supporting what the Columban Sisters do."
OBSERVER?Photo by Greg Fox
The 58th annual St. Columban’s Spring Festival on Sunday featured its first-ever watermelon eating contest, with rounds for both kids and adults. Pictured chowing down, from left: Erin Berlin, Brianna Browning, Molly Greenough, Tyler Ardillo (winner) and Timothy Post.
One person who showed up to partake in the fun was Tamara Benjamin of Dunkirk. She said she came out to enjoy the sunny weather and support the Columban Sisters.
"They're a wonderful organization, so it's nice to support them and give back to what they do," she said as her 7-year-old son Noah smiled while taking a ride on a pony.
Hosler said she noticed festival-goers from as far away as places like Clarence and Williamsville, even one couple all the way from Scotland who saw a sign for the festival and wanted to check it out. She added the event is more than just a fundraiser.
"It's an event for the community to come together and enjoy themselves," she said. "St. Columban's is sharing the experience with the community."
Entertainment included learning how to jig with the Clann na Cara School of Irish Dance of South Buffalo, which performed to applause.
While the mercury in the thermometer jumped, people were able to cool off and compete in the first annual Swellin' with Melon Watermelon Eating Contest, which had two rounds: one for children/teens and one for adults (men vs. women). The men came out on top, but the women held their own, bringing the competition down to the nail-biting wire.
Hosler pointed out a major positive this year was the growth of the classic car show, which had over 76 vehicles, skyrocketing from the average of about 18.
Other attractions included some old favorites: a Chiavetta's chicken barbecue, a dunk tank, carnival games and food, a bake sale, a DJ and various raffles. Children were able to enjoy a bounce house, pony rides, games and crafts, as well as the new "Lagoon of Doom" inflatable log roll.
"We're making subtle changes (such as adding the silent auction this year) leading up to our 60th Spring Festival in two years," Hosler said. "These small improvements will hopefully lead us up to our biggest and best festival ever."
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