Leading the way at St. Luke festial

Elena Reano,4, of Temple leads the way on the barrel train ride Saturday at St. Luke Catholic Church’s annual festival.

With a shorter schedule and attempting to follow COVID-19 guidelines, St. Luke Catholic Church held its annual fall festival Saturday.

The Rev. John Guzaldo, the parish priest, said he couldn’t be happier.

“This is our first activity since COVID started,” he said. “People are enjoying getting together and having fun.”

Offering food, music, games and other entertainment, this year’s festival ended at 4 p.m., followed by a mass at 5 p.m. it usually runs until 10 p.m., he said.

Matthew Ranney, co-chairman of the fair with his wife, Sydney, said the gala draws about 500 people, many of them nonmembers of the parish. Sammy Gamino, who provided the pre-recorded music, promoted the festival on social media.

Food vendors included Texas Style Barbecue, El Reparo, Kona Ice and Adam’s Lemonade. Knights of Columbus No. 7197 sold hotdogs, corn dogs and funnel cakes.

The festival’s goal is always about $50,000, Ranney said, “but we don’t always reach it.” The grand giveaway prize was a 2020 Nissan Rogue. There was also a silent auction.

A church committee of about 20 members puts on the festival, and more than 100 volunteers helped wherever they were needed, he said.

Aaron Martinez of Killeen, a sophomore at Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Temple, had a steady stream of children at the Disk Drop Game. If one of their three tokens dropped into a Winner’s Circle, the child got to pick a stuffed toy. If they just hit a number, they got a piece of candy.

“It’s one of the popular ones,” he said.

Not too far away, children at the Duck Pond were grabbing plastic ducks to win toys or snacks.

Kristen Zajicek of Holland shepherded her two children, Molly, 9, and Addy, 3, alongside her sister-in-law, Victoria Zajicek, who had her children, Bethany, 3, and Thomas,1, in tow. Thomas apparently would have jumped into the water with the ducks, but his mother held him back.

“The kids are having the best time of their life,” Kristen said.

The Tiny Hooves Rescue Petting Zoo had rabbits, goats, puppies and an inquisitive llama, and was a big draw. A hayride with a real tractor pulling a wagon, a Whirlybird Ride, inflatables, tether ball and a basketball goal were among the other attractions.

Patricia Vaz de Mello of Belton and her son, Austin Campbell, were teaching children “what it is to drive well,” she said, using the State Farm Teen Impaired Driver Simulator.

This involved pedal operated go carts on a short course, while wearing one of two vision impairment masks. The first mask distorts the image to simulate drunk driving and the other mask darkens to simulate driving at night.

After one boy ran into a lot of cones, Austin talked to him about the experience.

“He’s just explaining, ‘How did you feel and would that help you not to drink and drive?’” Vaz de Mello said.

“Yep,” the driver said.

“Hopefully it’s a lesson,” she said.

She said there was very much interest in driving the course.

“It’s like nonstop,” she said.