Principal: Festival at John XXIII offers residents local option for entertainment as gas prices soar

The Festival of St. John XXIII will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday and will offer a wide variety of games, food and drinks. The festival raises money for the school's general fund. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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The Festival of St. John XXIII will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday and will offer a wide variety of games, food and drinks. The festival raises money for the school's general fund. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Event at Middletown Catholic school scheduled for Friday through Sunday.

Dawn Pickerill, principal at St. John XXIII School in Middletown, says area residents don’t need to pay high gas prices and drive out of town for entertainment this weekend.

Instead, they can find family fun at the Festival at John XXIII Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the schools grounds, 3806 Manchester Road.

“It’s a community event,” she said.

The festival, formerly held at Fenwick High School, returned to John XXIII four years ago, but one year was cancelled due to COVID-19, Pickerill said.

She said proceeds from the festival go to the school’s general fund and reduce the cost of yearly tuition at the Catholic school. She said tuition is $5,500 and some students receive scholarships. John XXIII offers pre-school through eighth grade and has an enrollment of about 480, she said.

The festival features carnival rides and games, food, beer, games of chance and raffles. The grand raffle is for $10,000 and tickets are $10 each.

Nightly dinner options are available throughout the festival. The Knights of Columbus will prepare a fish sandwich Friday night, followed by Combs BBQ Saturday and Sons of Italy spaghetti dinner Sunday.

There will be live entertainment Friday night from Farewell Fischer under the tent and at dusk Saturday night, Spider-Man No Way Home will be shown for free on the football field as part of the Free Movies in the Park series.

The festival couldn’t continue without the support of the many volunteers, according to Pickerill.

One of the longtime volunteers is Bill Becker, former Middletown police chief. He has worked the Fenwick/John XXIII festivals for more than 25 years. He has been on the grounds all week, despite the heat.

“I like to give back and it’s a great group of people,” said Becker, 71. “I never learned how to say no.”

One who will be missing at this year’s festival is Ed Dobrozsi, a longtime volunteer who died last year on the final morning of the festival.

Becker said his good friend Dobrozsi would want the festival to continue.

“He’d say, ‘Move on,’ so we are,” Becker said.

Ethan Dobrozsi said his late father is “making sure” the festival is successful.


HOW TO GO:

WHAT: Festival at John XXIII

WHEN: 6 p.m. to midnight Friday; 4 p.m. to midnight Saturday; 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: John XXIII, 3806 Manchester Road

HOW MUCH: Rides, food and beverages are individually priced. An all-ride armband can be purchased Sunday for $25.

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