St. William puts summer spin on annual festival

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New August date draws crowds out for food, fun

By Ben Wiebesiek

FORT LUPTON — As the tejano band unloaded its equipment and prepared to take the stage, Michael Herrera, a young man in a crisp white dress shirt and black vest, took to the keyboard to play the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. The crowd was thrilled.
    The eclectic taste isn’t limited to music at the annual festival put on each year by St. William Catholic Church. The food vendors were busy serving up a mixture of hot dogs, Indian tacos, snow cones and churros Aug. 17 and 18.

    The mixture of different communities isn’t new to the annual festival, but this year, there was a new element: summer.
    For more than 50 years, St. Williams has hosted the event, which traditionally corresponded to the fall harvest in the community. But Colorado weather being what it is, Father Mauricio “Mau” Bermudez said the church moved this year’s festival to the summer to see if it worked better for the crowds.
    And judging from the large throngs of people milling past the rows of booths, the move was a hit.
    “First, the weather, the snow or wind, we never knew what the weather would be during the fall,” Bermudez said. “That’s the time of year where most farms are busy with kids and games, and it’s harder to get people to come out. So we decided to move it, and instead of a fall festival, we made it a summer festival. So far, so good!”
    The church doesn’t keep attendance numbers, but Bermudez said that this year’s crowd seemed significantly larger than last year.
    That’s as far as Bermudez can speculate, since he’s just past his one-year mark at the parish.
    But Fort Lupton native Tony Perez has been coming off and on for six years, and he felt the move was a welcome one.
    “I miss the harvest feeling,” Perez admits. “But it’s better for the kids. They can play all day.”
    But Perez wasn’t there for the jumping castles or pony rides.
    “I want to win the Broncos stuff,” he laughed.
    The church was raffling off a wide selection of items including autographed photos from John Elway, Peyton Manning and Andre Miller. Perez didn’t snag any of the Broncos gear, but he did walk away with a Pizza Hut gift card.
    The raffle also featured a more... substantial prize for those looking for a meal: a 240-pound pig.    
    “The festival is basically a time for us to gather as one community,” Bermudez said. “And to celebrate St. William, and to invite others to be part of St. William, or at least friends of St. William.”
    The local Santiago’s franchise donated $500 to the event.
    “People have been extremely generous,” Bermudez said. “We feel love by the whole community of Fort Lupton. Many people have donated so many things. Generosity has been the gift of this community, and in particular, Fort Lupton.”

Contact Ben Wiebesiek at 303-659-2522, ext. 205, or email bwiebesiek@metrowestnewspapers.com.