By Portia Williams
For more than 30 years the St. Mary of the Annunciation Church in Portsmouth has hosted the International Festival. The tradition will continue with the 2015 International Festival which will convene Sept.18-20.
According to Rick Estep, co-chairperson of the International Festival along with Tim Paul, said this year’s International Festival will be even bigger and better than ever.
“The International Festival is always the third weekend in September, and we are expecting it to be spectacular,” Estep said. “It is a time of gathering, showing the community how diverse we are by offering all of the different types of foods, regardless of where we come from we get to come together. We have people that come over from Kentucky, and from all around. Every year I get to see how well we get along together, it is just a great contribution to this community in and of itself.”
Live music and entertainment will be performed all weekend by a host of local musical artists. Josh Stewart Band will kick off on Friday at 6 p.m. The German and American food booths will open for Friday’s performance.
“Now, we’ve started this concert concept on Friday night, and that came about a few years ago, and this year we have some great local talent,” he said.” On Friday night we will have The Josh Stewart Band, and this will be a great concert for the community to enjoy.”
Friday night festival-goers ages 21 and older can visit the Beer Garden that will be on site. This year the Portsmouth Brewery is sponsoring a Beer Garden featuring their local home brews for $3.
The scheduled lineup of musical guests for the International Festival will include the following:
Friday, Sept. 18 – 6 p.m.- 9 p.m. -Josh Stewart Band
Saturday, Sept. 19 – 2 p.m. – Shane Runion , 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m. – Nevada Hart & Nick Nichols
Sunday, Sept. 20 – 12:30 p.m. – Amhrain, 2:30 p.m. Gary Billups & The Music Department
On Saturday, Sept. 18, the celebration continues with the Flea Market which will open at 8 a.m.
Flea Market/Rummage Sale (2nd Floor of School Building Opens at 8 a.m Saturday
“The flea market has been awesome every year, we have a lot of folks that donate to it, it is all 100 percent donations,” he said. “And we start that early on Saturday morning
Antique Custom Car and Truck Show will be held Saturday and registration is from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., and the entry fee is.
“We have more about 200 cars already registered to participate in the car show, and we are really excited about that,” he said.
Cash prizes will be a part of the Festival, with the purchase of raffle tickets.
There will be a grand cash prize – $2,000 as well as lesser cash prizes. Raffle tickets $1 or 6 for $5. 10th prize is a Treasure Chest of Goodies value of about $1,000, all drawings to be held Sunday 4 p.m.
Other activities that will be available will be a Craft Room and Quilt Show, as well as a quilt Raffle, and a silent auction. Southern Ohio Medical Center will be present to provide free health screenings on Saturday, Sept. 19, from noon until 4 p.m. Children can enjoy the fun of inflatables, slides, and a variety of games and activities.
All of the food booths and many more activities start on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 20, from noon to 5 p.m. on the parish grounds located on the corner of Fifth and Market streets in the historic Boneyfiddle District of downtown Portsmouth.
This year’s International Festival will live up to it’s name with a diverse selection food booths that will open on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. consisting of foods from eight different countries, local foods, and foods that children enjoy.
“We will have foods from eight different countries, which will include Italy, the Philippines, the American booth with chicken and ribs from The Ribber, Mediterranean with foods from the Middle East, Mexico, and we have Toro Loco coming to supply us with some really good Mexican food,” he said. “We have the kids foods, which our hot dogs and chips, the food from Germany will be the Bratwurst, our Irish foods, and food from Appalachia, which is very popular, it is the chicken and noodles.”
In addition to the co-chairperson for the festival, Estep and Paul, a committee of more than 20 parishioners from St. Mary’s begin in May of each year to start planning the International Festival event. Numerous volunteers also lend a hand to help out each year.
“It is a committee of us, of 20 or people here at St. Mary’s that work together to make this happen,” Estep said. “Everybody pitches in to help, and the number volunteers, I couldn’t even tell you how many folks come down to help out with the Festival, it is just amazing. I have been very fortunate to be involved with the chairmanship for the past 10 years, and the level of support, currently we have Father Adam Streitenberger, who is very supportive of this, and that makes a tremendous difference.”
He said the funds raised from the 2015 International Festival will be allocated toward the St. Mary of the Annunciation Church’s new activity center that is currently under construction.
“The Festival is also a fundraiser, and we have a brand new building that is being erected directly beside the church, and it is a beautiful building, and the money that we raise will go towards it,” he said.”We were hoping it would ready during the this time, but it probably won’t be completed until about November. Last year, the money we raised from the festival went for the construction of the new building, this year it will be for the purchase of items to go inside of the building.”
His is optimistic about the festival-goers coming out as they always do to participate in the fun, enjoy great food, and entertainment that the International Festival always provides.
“This has just turned into a huge community event, and we are looking forward to another successful year, and look forward to having the community to come out and support it as they always do,” Estep said.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.