The feast day of St. Joseph falls in mid-March, when devout Catholics are busy giving up festive pursuits like games of chance and rich foods like Italian pastries. Maybe that’s why St. Joseph’s Church in New Paltz saves its annual Festa for late summer. Or maybe it’s just a better time of year, weatherwise, for an outdoor celebration. Whatever the cause, the parish has been hosting this much-anticipated block party for four full decades now, and folk of all faiths gather from miles around to join in the fun every August. “It’s a community tradition, and not just for our parishioners,” says Father Salvatore Cordaro, OFM, pastor at St. Joseph’s. “We’re proud to be very much a part of the New Paltz community.”
The 40th annual St. Joseph’s Festa returns to the church grounds and parish hall from Thursday to Saturday, August 18 through 20. From 6 to 11 p.m. each evening, there will be live entertainment onstage in the courtyard: the Breakaways on Thursday, “Italian Night” with Roberto Milanese on Friday and Chain Gang on Saturday. The entry drive will be lined with booths where you can try your luck at our games of chance and skill, or toss a ball with enough strength and accuracy to plunge a volunteer into the dunk tank. Gift baskets will be raffled off, and there will be a 50/50 raffle as well.
For many attendees, the Festa is all about the fair food. Long tables will be set up in front of the stage, ringed by food vendor booths offering sausage and peppers, pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, zeppole, ice cream, beer and soda. And in the cool depths of the parish hall, one side of the room will be lined with tempting displays of bakery sweets. “Italian pastries are a big draw for us,” notes Father Cordaro. The air-conditioned hall will also house displays of crafts for sale.
Each year, by tradition, the Festa is dedicated to the memory of a recently deceased parishioner. This year St. Joseph’s will commemorate Michael Lecesse, a professor in the Communications Department at SUNY-New Paltz who died in December 2015.
Admission to St. Joseph’s Festa is free. St. Joseph’s in located at 34 North Chestnut Street in New Paltz. For more information, call (845) 255-5635 or visit www.facebook.com/stjosephnewpaltz.