February 25, 2018

Mark your calendar for June 1-2--our hugely-successful Homecoming Fest is back for the summer of 2018!

A year ago when we were in the throes of planning our Centennial Homecoming Fest, Fr. Brad would casually suggest that perhaps this should be an annual event. 

Now, I’m a huge fan of Fr. Brad, but I gotta say his timing was a bit off.  There we were up to our eyeballs in work with more unknowns than knowns, and he’s talking about doing it AGAIN, before we do it the FIRST TIME???  Like they say, timing is everything.

Flash forward to early 2018.  The subject comes up again, timing is better and the ”what if” wheels get turning.

We know last year’s event brought 4,400 people onto our campus.  Certainly that included current and past parishioners and school and RE families, but, it also included a large number of new visitors.   People saw our beautiful Cathedral, were made aware of our great school and interacted with our wonderful people.  That’s nothing but good all around.

So we started looking at dates and seeking opinions.  This reimagining process gave us a chance to take all of the good from  last year but still make a few major improvements.

First, in 2018 we are not on a holiday weekend.  Last year we chose July 1-2 because July 1 was actually the 100th anniversary of the parish’s founding.  We know having our big event on the “real day” was a good move once, but clearly, we shouldn’t make a steady diet of it.  There are too many long-standing family gatherings, vacations and traditions to compete with around the July 4th holiday. 

So, we picked the First Official Weekend of Summer.  June 1-2 is the weekend after Memorial Day, and many schools (including St. Raymond) are out--or at least down to just working off their snow days.  We’ll be the first major festival in the area.

We also switched to a Friday/Saturday sequence instead of a  Saturday/Sunday.  We’ll do Friday night from Happy Hour to midnight with food, fun and live music.  Saturday, we’ll start mid-afternoon and will run until midnight.

Along with live music, Saturday will include a full slate of kids’ games and entertainment.  As with last year, there will be no admission fee for children either day, and all of the games and activities will be free.  That “kids’ free” decision was clutch last year—it really set the tone as a hospitable, family event.

We have been working on the  musical line-up and hope to announce in the next few weeks.   Our aim is a mix of genres, some new bands and a few old favorites.  It’s our hope that we’ll have headliners that will pack ‘em in.

One of the challenges with the Homecoming Fest last year is that we had no reference points.  Will there be 500 people or 3000? As a first-time event, we had no history to help us make decisions.

Not any more!  Thanks to the success of last year, we now have a clear blueprint for how to do this—and how to do it well.  It should be so much easier to plan this year’s event…at least that’s what I told the committee when I invited them back.  I’m so grateful to those who said they’re in for another year.

If you’d like to be a part of this committee, we’d love to have you aboard.  We’re a “many hands make light work” group, so we’ll find a job that uses your talents.  I expect we’ll have 3 evening meetings between now and June 1.  If you are interested in being a part, please let me know.

Eileen Hooks Gutierrez
Director of Development and Projects Liaison
straysdevelopment@yahoo.com, 815-722-6653, extension 242



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