St. Benedict Fall Festival survives a move, other complications

By Jon Valentine

After overcoming a series of setbacks this year, Chris Bellefeuille and the Catholic community at St. Benedict are all set to hold their annual Fall Festival Oct. 2.

Every year for the last 15, the Parish of St. Benedict has put on a Fall Festival on the first weekend of October, featuring food, raffles and a number of fun activities for the children and parents of the parish and community to enjoy.

This year’s festival, to be held in the parking lot of St. Benedict’s new facility at 16223 S. 48th St. in Phoenix, will have more attractions than ever before and will likely draw a larger crowd than in years past.

Until recently, however, the event’s coordinators were not even sure the event would happen this year, due to a number of unforeseen difficulties in the planning stages.

Bellefeuille, in her third year as co-chair of the event for St. Benedict, says that the change of address for St. Benedict was the source of the majority of the problems. The parish moved from Chandler to Phoenix earlier this year, with plans to construct a new church.

“Last year, we had the festival in the parking lot at the church when it was in Chandler on Del Rio Street,” Bellefeuille said.

“We have all the empty land this year because we the new building isn’t there yet, so we will be holding it there.”

In addition to securing a location for the event, Bellefeuille and St. Benedict’s other co-chair of the event, Debi Chavez, were confronted with a very different series of necessary permits and paperwork this year because the festival will be held in Phoenix, rather than Chandler.

“Coming from Chandler, we really didn’t know anything about the city of Phoenix’s rules and regulations for things like this, and that made it difficult,” Bellefeuille said.

The coordinators had to file for an event license and a beer and liquor license, together costing around $200. In addition, security was a more pressing issue this year than in years past, and the church will have a number of uniformed officers at the rate of $150 per officer per hour.

Also, the event had to be reviewed and approved by the Phoenix City Council before it could be scheduled.

According to Bellefeuille, the most challenging task facing her and Chavez this year was finding enough sponsors to either volunteer their services or help fund the event.

“Getting the sponsors is always the hardest part for something like this,” Bellefeuille said. “This year we do have quite a few, though.”

Sundt Construction, Leo A. Daly Architecture, and Bob Turner/Realty Executives were this year’s biggest sponsors, in addition to a variety of other contributors who will provide power, food, raffle prizes and supervise some of the activities.

“The church provides no funding for the event, so all of the money must come from the sponsors and individual donations,” Bellefeuille said.

“Last year, the total cost came to around $9,000, and the church was able to net a gain of around $14,000.”

St. Benedict hopes expects to nearly double its fundraising success this year, with a goal of $30,000 in net profit.

Bellefeuille says she expects this year’s festival location to remain for the foreseeable future.

“Next year, the site will have everything like power and water already installed, and it should be much easier to plan,” she said.

Considering the number of attractions and valuable raffle prizes (grand prize is a cruise to Alaska), this year’s festival should be lots of fun for the whole family. Events will run from 2:30 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 2.