By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
The wind blew across the St. Joseph's Catholic Church parking lot on Sunday, pushing the smell of sweet batter and powdered sugar through the air, as funnel cakes were dipped into hot oil.
When the wind changed directions, the smell shifted to that of beef tacos and herbs and spices typical of Latin cooking.
St. Joseph's Catholic Church ran its annual multi-cultural fund-raising festival, "Fest-of-All," all day Sunday between the walls of several of its buildings.
"It is not only a way to raise money for the parish, but it is a way for the community to gather," said Jim Rodgers, co-chair of the event.
About 30 vendors pitched booths at the festival. Some offered services, information, books and plants, but the majority of the vendors offered a variety of culturally different foods.
"We have German food, Mexican food, Puerto Rican food, African food, a sweet shop, Czech food ..." Rodgers said as he went down a list of different types of cuisine.Fest-of-All also offered mixed entertainment from the variety of cultures as performers from American Shotokan Karate Academy, St. Joseph's Catholic School choir, area high school dance teams, folk dance groups and a vocal quartet displayed their talents on a wooden stage placed in front of the food booths.
"Everything that represents our parish and church is here," Rodgers said. "Everything that represents Killeen is here."
St. Joseph's Catholic Church has been organizing the multi-cultural event since at least the 1960s and probably longer, Rodgers said. The intention is to bring together all the different cultures who make up the parish.
"I love it. It is so international," said the Rev. Adam Martinez, St. Joseph's Catholic Church's pastor. "What is so beautiful about it is that the people are working together."
The people attending the festival, such as Milagros Rubio, of Killeen, enjoyed the tapping boots of the MECA dance group and clanking of their swords as they danced on the stage. They also enjoyed the other performances, such as the four-toned vocals of the notable Gentlemen's Quartet as they sang barbershop style in their Texas Flag button down shirts.
"They have a lot of variety this year," said Rubio, who has been to the festival several years in a row. "People have been sitting here watching and listening all day. They haven't moved."
The food was also enjoyed by most of the attendees.
"I tried the Mexican food," Rubio said. "The kolaches are very good, and the funnel cakes are good too. People love it."
To raise money for the church, there was a silent auction and ticket drawing with a total of $6,000 in prizes, a cake auction, a "white elephant" garage sale. Proceeds from the food booths were donated, too.Four young ladies or "Fest-of-All Princesses" helped sell raffle ticket by walking around the crowd of a constant 200 to 300 people. They were Adilane Marquez, Sonia Pulido, Jeslyann Tirado and Larraine Perrin. The one who sold the most tickets would be crowned queen.
In the past, the festival has supported 10 percent of the church's budget for the year, Rodgers said. This year, it seemed to be doing even better.
Martinez said the money was not nearly as important as the culture.
"The representation of culture is diverse, life giving and enriching," Martinez said.
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7554