Parish festival readies for 63rd edition
Kickoff to OLQM annual midsummer classic just days away
WOONSOCKET— The raffle booth is open just off Park Square, and the carnival rides will be arriving next as Our Lady Queen of Martyrs (OLQM) parish prepares to open its 63rd annual Parish Festival this Wednesday, Aug. 2.
“Once the festival begins, you know it is time to start getting the kids ready for the start of school in September.” —Festivalgoer Yvette Doiron
The popular carnival at the Woonsocket-North Smithfield line is a summer midpoint for many Woonsocketers, and also the harbinger that another school year is just around the corner. The festival runs through Saturday night, Aug. 5, when all the fun will end at 11 p.m.
When it is underway, expect to spend a little more time getting through Park Square because the crowds will be large and the bright lights from the whirling Rockwell Amusement rides distracting.
David Laroche, a longtime parish member and festival volunteer, was already working a shift in the festival ticket booth opposite the old Almacs store plaza Friday night and was looking forward to another busy week at the festival grounds.
A computer teacher at LaSalle High School in Providence, Laroche has been
giving part of his summer vacation to the festival for years and has even chaired the event with Woonsocket’s Romeo Berthiaume in the past.
There is always plenty for OLQM’s volunteers to help out with given the multifaceted offerings of activities at the festival. Some will run the 16 parish booths of games aimed at testing the skill and ability of participants, and others will be kept busy handling orders at the Cuisine Ronaldo food kitchen. The Ronaldo menu will again feature clam cakes and chowder made by the kitchen’s volunteers, OLQM's dynamite sandwiches, and of course, hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries.
As the festival opens on Wednesday the big rides and kid’s rides set up by Rockwell’s crew will be available through a pay-one-price wrist band allowing families to see their kids ride from 6 to 11 p.m. for a $25 charge. Coupons are available from OLQM for a $2 discount on the wrist bands.
The garage bingo with 50 cent cards will be available in the rectory garages from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., and entertainment for the night will be provided by “Mr. G and the Mountie All-Star Band along with special guest performers.
The parish game booths will open at 7 p.m. each night of the festival and Cuisine Ronaldo opens at 6 p.m.
Fireworks night is on Thursday, at 9:30 p.m., with a rain date of Friday if needed, and Saturday bring another wrist band pay-one-price for rides from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. only.
The big drawings for the $10,000 in available prize money will be conducted on Saturday as the festival comes to a close at 11 p.m.
With so many people having made memories at the festival in the past, there is always a guaranteed crowd for the opening night of the annual event.
Laroche said he expects Wednesday will be busy again this year, especially with the opportunity for pay-one-price on the amusement rides. “Thursday is usually a big night, too, because of the fireworks, and Friday night is big just because it’s Friday night and people don’t have to work the next day,” he said.
Saturday should draw good crowds, weather permitting of course, for the matinee wristband rides, and many people may stay over for the nighttime wrap up of the festival, according to Laroche.
There is entertainment that night by local band leaders and radio personality, Jeff Gamache, and many people will also be staying to find out the winning raffle numbers.
The drawings will be for a first prize of $5,000, second prize of $2,500, third prize of $1,500, and a fourth and fifth prizes of $500 each. There is also opportunity to buy tickets on a drawing for $500 worth of scratch lottery tickets and a daily split-the-pot.
The festival raises money to fund OLQM’s programs and parish needs through the course of the year and is its largest fundraising effort.
As she bought tickets from Laroche on Friday, Yvette R. Doiron said the OLQM’s festival has always been a big summer event for people in the city and nearby communities.
“Once the festival begins, you know it is time to start getting the kids ready for the start of school in September,” Doiron said. It is always place to meet people and some become lasting relationships, she said. “My brother used to work here with his now wife, Diane (Sevigny) Neveu,” she said. “He used to help his father-in-law, Leopold Sevigny, work the carnival and he was a member of the parish,” Doiron said.
Aschedule of festival highlights can be found on the OLQM website put together by Laroche at http://www.olqm.us
Yvette S. Doiron, left, buys raffle tickets from OLQM parish volunteer David Laroche.
Above, signs and billboards signal the arrival of the annual Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Festival, which starts this Wednesday, Aug. 2, and features fireworks on Thursday night. Below, OLQM parish volunteer David Laroche is already manning the ticket booth.