Unfortunately, for the second summer in a row, a full-scale version of the St Anthony’s Parish Picnic won’t be happening this year.
“We debated about having the full picnic,” said Rita Arsenault, member of the fundraising committee that organizes the summer event, citing the COVID-19 pandemic for the reason not to go ahead with the regular picnic. “We were afraid that things could change. It looked like we might probably be able to do it, but then who knows, all it takes is one outbreak.”
Thankfully, the committee is once again doing a take-out of its annual hot roast beef dinner following the success of a similar event last summer.
“It worked out really well last year,” said Ms Arsenault.
The hot roast beef dinners, which includes a dessert, will be available for pick up Saturday July 31 to Sunday Aug 1 from 3 pm to 6 pm at the church’s parish centre. People can pre-purchase tickets or buy them at the door.
“People come into the front door of the hall, then we have a crew in the kitchen and as soon as they are finished there, their meal is ready and then they leave by the side door,” explained Ms Arsenault.
Last year, while most people took their meal home, even more opted to enjoy their dinner at the nearby Bloomfield Provincial Park, with a few even sitting out on the grass in front of the priest’s residence.
Traditionally, during the regular picnic, they would serve about 600 dinners, with the picnic generally raising about $25,000 for the church, which is used towards maintenance of the building.
“When we started planning last year, if we sell 300 meals, that would be great and we almost did 600,” said Ms Arsenault, adding they were able to raise about $12,000 through the take-out dinners. “It went really well.”
Father Kishore Gundabathini has been with the parish for close to a year now. Technically, this will be his first parish picnic at St Anthony’s.
“I will miss the real meaning of picnic, people coming here and spending a day here, but we don’t have all that this year, but we will be able to manage in the hall,” he said.
It takes many volunteers to help with the meal prep for the dinners, and usually to help serve the meals during the picnic and clean up afterwards. Last year, since it was a take-out style event, they didn’t require as many people as in previous years, but Ms Aresnault is hoping they will have enough volunteers to divide up the workload over the two days.
This summer would have been the 149th anniversary of the picnic that was organized for the first time in 1872 as way to raise money to build St Anthony’s Church. The summer of 2022 will be 150th anniversary of the picnic.
“We’re have to make a great big splash next year,” said Ms Arsenault, the committee hopeful they will be able to properly celebrate the milestone next summer.
Advance tickets are available at the parish hall on Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday between 10 am and 3 pm. Tickets cost $17 each.