Summer used to be my leisure season. No school, catch up on some house upkeep in a leisurely kind of way, read a lot. But not so much since my retirement from full-time teaching. And there’s one word to explain that change in my summertime situation — VictorFest.
Since I agreed to be co-chairman of the event with my friend Jorge Franco, some of the “leisure” has been taken out of my first two retirement summers.
VictorFest is a parish celebration of my church, St. Victor in Calumet City. It goes back to the early 1980s. It was big for a while; tons of people, a carnival, we even had shirts made for the event. But as the parish contracted in the 1990s VictorFest also contracted and finally ended.
As the parish was rejuvenated by an influx of Hispanic people, talk of a festival arose. Festivals are very common in Mexico where many of our folks come from. So in 2007 VictorFest was reborn.
There was a desire of many in the parish to add a carnival to the food, music, and beverage that had been VictorFest. But some years ago, the city had a bad experience with a carnival at River Oaks and although we were close, there was no permission granted to St. Victor to hold a carnival in 2011.
After many discussions and much planning, St. Victor was granted the right to have a carnival last year as part of VictorFest. Besides the carnival, bingo and an area for crafts and vendors were added too.
There were many anxious moments last year before the start of our new, restructured event, but with great weather, a lot of planning, and numerous volunteers, the event was a big success. And with the noticeable presence of Calumet City’s finest, security fears did not materialize.
Right now is the hectic time of VictorFest preparation. The festivities will be next weekend and there is always something that needs to be taken care of and worried about. But with last year’s success, we have confidence that our work will again pay off and with a little help from above weather-wise, we should have a great celebration. (We do have a “divine meteorological intervention” committee).
This is not just a St. Victor celebration, though it certainly is that. It is a celebration of the larger community of Calumet City and our neighboring communities where many old St. Victor folks now reside.
I would certainly like to invite you who read my column and your friends and families to stop over next weekend.
The carnival will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. July 25. Although our food stands will not be open on this day, the carnival does provide for a good selection of tasty treats.
On July 26 and 27, the carnival and fest — ethnic and traditional foods, bingo, vendor/crafters, beer/wine/margarita garden — will take place from 5 to 11 p.m. on both days.
Musical groups on Friday will include mariachi music, Jerry Armstrong (R&R), Harold Hull’s “Acapella Oldies,” and Elemento.
On Saturday we will have Mexican Folkloric Dancers, the group Heavy Tango, and Dennis Stella and his Blue Suede Shoes.
Festivities are from 1 to 9:30 p.m. July 28. Musical groups will include Wichensito, Julian Gomes and los del Rancho, the Mud Sharks, Lanzita de Durango and Bandita de Chicago. We are also having the Calumet City Fire Department’s “smoke house” on premises in the afternoon.
Some people have mentioned to me that it’s too bad that VictorFest is on the same weekend as Pieroi Fest in Whiting. I tell them not to worry, Pierogi Fest will get over it.
Please come out and join in the celebration. If you have any questions, contact me or the parish office, (708) 891-8920.
Thanks for reading.