The Annual St. Mary International Festival provided treat for locals over the weekend, with foods, entertainment, and more.
The event welcomed cooperative weather all weekend, with events scheduled Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Of guests in attendance, local volunteer and area professional Gina Chabot was present. Chabot was pleased by the event, citing many features, including music, car show, crafts, and themed basket raffles.
“The weather was perfect this weekend for St Mary’s celebration of our international community. We shared foods from various cultures from which our parish is comprised—Asian, German, Appalachian, Italian and more,” Chabot said. “This year looks to be one of the best ever, as so many in the community have come out to have a wonderful family event.”
The event is made possible, thanks to Father Brian Beal, co-chairs Rick Estep and Tim Paul, as well as a committee of 30 people.
“It is the major fundraiser for the church and also a tremendous community outreach to expose the church,” Co-chair Rick Estep said. “We’re one of the biggest events of the year. We bring in thousands of people to this thing.”
Paul echoed the importance of the event.
“Money usually ranges on weather and other factors, but we can reliably bring in somewhere around $50,000, but that is without expenses,” Paul said. “We usually bring in around $20,000 to $30,000 after said and done. It all goes back into evangelism programs and other costs. If a church bell needs fixed, or a clock on the bells needs looked at, you know, we always have funding for those upkeeps, but the first thing is always the evangelical needs and spreading the word of Jesus.”
The events started Friday at 5:30 p.m. with select food booths, a biergarten, Chinese auction, and music at 6:30. The band to play was the Sheldon Road Band. The band is based out of Flatwoods and Lexington, Ky. They are a regional band known across Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, and Indiana. Ken Adams is the lead vocals and guitar, James Dillon is on vocals and guitar, Austin Boggs dominates on bass, and Ryan Woods keeps everyone on beat on the drums.
The event continued Saturday at 8 a.m. with a flea market at the inside center, alongside an antique car, truck, and motorcycle show, as well as a craft and vendor fair. The international food booths opened at 11 a.m. and Steve Free played music at 2 p.m. Free is well known for his music in the local region, as he hails as an internationally acclaimed award-winning singer/songwriter whose music is drawn from his Native American and Appalachian roots. There were also kid games and inflatables, a biergarten hosted by Portsmouth Brewing Company, a Chinese Auction and craft booth. The evening closed after a performance by The Detours. The Detours consist of Alan Reed, Doug Parsley, Jamie Martin, and Jacob Ankrom. Reed and Parsley and Martin were all members of local favorites Flashback and The Detours. Jacob is a founding member of local favorite Mikey Mike and the Big Unit. The band has a lot of popularity across different paths, solo and ensemble.
Sunday Mass was held at 10:30, with food booths open at 11:30. The flea market, Chinese auction, and tractor show will take place throughout the day. Town Folk took the stage at 1 p.m., Mikey Mike and the Big Unit will took the stage at 2 p.m., the dessert auction was held at 3 p.m. and raffle drawing was at 5 p.m.
Town Folk is a folk-rock trio from southern Ohio, consisting of locals James Mohr, Kyle Redoutey, and Macyn Rose Johnson.
Mikey Mike and the Big Unit is a big blues and soul band that dominates the local music scene. The unit began in 2016, as a side project of the classic rock/ jam band Uncle Eli and the Poets of Woo. The band consists of Eli Vestich on guitar, Jacob Ankrom, on bass, Charles Nichols(Nick) on drums, Tony Mckrimmon on sax, Chelsea Watkins on lead vocals and Don Smith on keyboard.
The music was enjoyed by all, according to Paul, which was planned by the group so that the musical inspirations and genres were popular and nothing surprising.
“I think the entertainment lineup is just awesome and you get a different flavor of music from each of the groups we have performing,” Estep said prior to the event.
One of the new features this year was a series of short presentations by locals part of the international community.
“We had students at the international fest from Ukraine, China, Georgia, and so on,” Paul said. “They were students from Shawnee State University, and they visited to talk about their cultures, show off poster boards, and that sort of thing. It went over very well, especially Ukraine, because people had a lot of questions about them. We had four of them and it was wonderful. They spoke, brought some sample food and information on their cultures. It was nice. I think this type of flair is important, because we’re the international festival; we’re open to all cultures.”
There were also a lot of regular events that the festival features that went over well.
“The festival went over great. We had a car show with 194, which is wonderful, but we were shooting for 200,” Paul. “I guess we were pretty close. We also had a motorcycle show and gave out prizes, which brought out around a couple dozen bikes. It was well received.”
Overall, new and old features went well together to make for a successful popular Portsmouth event.
“This is one of the last events of the year. It is a lot of fellowship and sharing our faith with everyone through our multiculturalism, because we are all around the world,” Paul said. “Mostly, we do it, because people just look forward to that third week in September. People love our event. It is up there with River Days and other popular events.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved