A police officer said the admittance fee served as a deterrent to potential
By LINDA M. LINONIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN — Festivalgoers want a family-friendly atmosphere and they got just that at the 40th annual festival sponsored by St. Luke Church, 5235 South Ave.
The festival, which began Thursday and concluded Sunday, attracted some 13,000 people who paid the $3 admission at the door, said Sharon Kent, festival chairman.
That number, though, doesn’t count those 12 and younger, who weren’t charged an admittance fee, and parish members who bought tickets in advance. That makes the number even higher.
With such crowds might come unwanted elements and activities.
Most people attending a church or any festival don’t want to face an unsafe, unruly group.
That didn’t happen, however. Five officers from Boardman Police Department, two deputy sheriffs and four private security personnel walked through the crowds and checked the parking lots.
A minor problem with a fight at the festival last year prompted the festival committee to decide on an admittance fee and fencing around the festival grounds. In light of a fight at a festival in June at St. Charles Church, the measures were a good idea and paid off.
The Rev. Joseph Fata, St. Luke pastor, said he heard about one couple who saw the admittance fee sign and drove away. “We wanted to generate a family-friendly atmosphere,” he said. “Droves of young people sometimes were a bit frightening to older people and young families. But we did have a teen night Thursday and had no problems.”
In observing the crowd, many teens attended with their families.
Officer Ken Madeline, who has been among the police presence at the festival since 1987, said he has observed “a lot more families” and “people seem to be more polite and they’re not trashing the grounds.”
He said he felt the admittance fee provided somewhat of a deterrent to those looking just to “hang out” and possibly cause a problem.
Fun for the whole family
“I’ve seen more families attend,” said Kent, noting that the church has some 960 families. About 200 church members work at the festival and others provide various support and help.
Mary Ellen Brannigan, festival co-chairwoman, said the festival is a fundraiser whose proceeds benefit the school.
“Since we’re on the border of Youngstown and Boardman, it’s like a community event,” Brannigan said, and there’s something for everyone.
The food variety would suit any palate — stuffed cabbage, pirogi, pasta and meatballs, pepperoni rolls, corn dogs, funnel cakes, apple dumplings, lemon shakes and the list goes on.
The festival featured a variety of bands, which played a range of musical genres. And for children, there were amusement rides, a petting zoo and pony rides. Adults could play games of chance and bingo, or just socialize.
A sampling of festivalgoers gave a thumbs-up to the event with an increased nod to security.
UMonica Faulkman of Youngstown, who was there with her 8-year-old daughter, Monique, commented that the fence around the festival was a good idea because it contained the children. “And the fee is worth it,” she said.
USandy Haylett of Boardman, conversed with Faulkman at a ride that her granddaughter, Anna D’Apolito, 8, was going on with Monique. She noted that children had more freedom to roam away from their parents a bit because of the fence.
Both women agreed that the visible police presence added to the security; though both also said they have always felt safe at the event.
UChantel and James Johnson of Youngstown walked about the festival with their 7-month-old daughter, Johnec, in a stroller. “It’s something we could enjoy as a family,” Chantel said, and her husband added, “It’s family oriented.”
ULeo Gilboy of Boardman, a church member and volunteer at the ticket booth, said, “This is the best we’ve had.”
UBeverly and Bill Hegarty of Boardman attended with their children, Mackenzie, 4, and Evan, 2. “We have seen more families with children,” Bill said. “We generally come during the day hours and not at night but we’ve always felt safe.”
He recalled coming to the festival as a teen and noted some fights had occurred. But he also pointed out that years ago, young people used fists, not guns.