Parish Festival Fun

Virtually everyone will have a great time!

By Robin Mull

Director of Marketing

Planning for fundraising and summer festivals begins months ahead of the event, but this year, due to COVID-19, many parishes have had to change the way they fundraise and explore new options to engage parishioners of all ages. And they have had a limited amount of time to make those plans, which now rely heavily on virtual technology.

St. Margaret Mary Parish in Lower Burrell is holding its first Virtual Festival of Friendship Aug. 19-22. All events are hosted on the parish website and focus on three areas: fundraising, community outreach and children’s activities.

While parishioners were disheartened when the long-standing community parish festival, which attracts residents from Lower Burrell, New Kensington and surrounding areas, had to be moved to a virtual event due to social-distancing guidelines, excitement grew as plans were unveiled for the virtual event.

“We discovered, long before this actually, that many people of all ages are used to computer life,” said Father Kenneth Zaccagnini, pastor. “Many people have gotten used to doing many things in the last couple months on a computer.”

Ariel Schroeder, director of marketing and coordinator of parish ministries, coordinator of the parish festival, knew that going virtual was the best way to bring the summer festival fun to parishioners and the community at large.

“We wanted to come up with some activities that would appeal to a wide variety of people,” she said.

Virtual activities include a pet photo contest, a fun facts quiz on the history of the parish and the festival, children’s games, and basket raffles and drawings.

“For the children’s games and activities, we contacted local teachers to read stories to the children, and we found some online games that we could make specific to Lower Burrell and St. Margaret Mary,” Schroeder said. “Father Ken has a dog named Sparky, and one of our games was ‘Spot Sparky.’”

The main attraction is the raffle featuring more than 100 baskets donated by parishioners and local businesses. This year’s big ticket item is a fire table outdoor dining set for eight from Amish Yard.

“Whenever I make a large purchase, kind of the centerpiece for our festival,
I always try to find an item that a person would love to win, but would not want to spend the money to buy it,” Father Zaccagnini said.

“It’s very humbling to see all the amazing things people come up with,” Schroeder said. “I am so happy that we have such a great parish community and staff. Everyone has really stepped up to translate the physical festival into the virtual festival. It’s really awesome to see the good response we had and everyone working together to make it happen.”


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