Part of Cincinnati’s culture is its rich, deeply-rooted ties to the Catholic church. Take a walk through any block in any neighborhood and this is noticeable: parishes stand tall, most of them steeped in history. And, each summer, almost every parish seems to throw a heck of a party that doubles as a fundraiser. It’s a classic equation: the summer festival, complete with live music, booze, food, carnival rides, raffles and, well, more food.
We’ve compiled a list of church festivals happening throughout the Queen City, all taking place this summer. (And find a more complete list via The Catholic Telegraph.)
St. Catharine of Siena Cincitalia in Cheviot — When in Cheviot, do as the Catholics do. And, this weekend, they’re throwing a party the Italian way. Enjoy an eclectic selection of live music, Italian folk dancing, wine tastings and cooking demonstrations presented by Galbani Cheese. Feast on some homemade lasagna, calamari or stromboli. Then, wash it down with a glass of vino from the wine garden. Leave the kids at home on Friday or let them tag along on Saturday and Sunday for games, rides and raffles. A selection of wine, mixed drinks and beer will be available with an ID and wristband. 6 p.m.-midnight June 1; 3 p.m.-midnight June 2; 1-9 p.m. June 3. Harvest Home Park, 3961 North Bend Road, Cheviot, cincitalia.org.
Our Lord Christ the King JuneFest in Mount Lookout — JuneFest kicks off the summer church fest season right, blending a combo of live music, cheap booze, raffles, rides, games and classic festival food fare. This year, the fest turns 43, hosted by Our Lord Christ the King Parish in Mount Lookout. Sit down with friends and family for a delish old-fashioned Sunday dinner from The Hitching Post, try your hand at a game of Texas Hold ‘em or enter the raffle for your chance to win big. Adult festivities — featuring craft beer, wine, spirits and gambling — are limited to Friday evening, but Saturday and Sunday are fun for the whole family. Admission is $5 a head. 7 p.m.-midnight June 1; 3 p.m.-midnight June 2; 1-9 p.m. June 3. Cardinal Pacelli School, 927 Ellison Ave., Mt. Lookout, ctk-junefest.org.
Taste of Lebanon at St. Anthony of Padua Maronite Catholic Church in East Walnut Hills — This two-day affair is a celebration of authentic, homemade cooking and Mediterranean culture. Eat all the falafel you can handle, try some kibbe (a fried ball of onions, finely minced meat like beef or lamb and fragrant, earthy spices), tabouli or stuffed grape leaves (usually filled with meat and rice). Entertainment will include traditional Lebanese Dabke dancing and guests can enjoy shopping, raffles and games throughout the weekend. And, hey, take some falafel to-go — worth it. 3-9 p.m. June 2; noon-8 p.m. June 3. St. Anthony of Padua Maronite Catholic Church, 2530 Victory Parkway East Walnut Hills,
Panegyri at Holy Trinity St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Finneytown — Go Greek for a day — or the whole weekend — at the 44th Panegyri Greek Festival. Panegyri means and is a “festival for everyone.” Traditional music and folk dance will transport guests of all kinds to the mainland and islands of Greece. Visit the marketplace to find jewelry, icons, olive oil and other imported goods and take a tour of the Greek Orthodox Church to learn of its authentic Byzantine style. But the highlight of this festival is the food. Grab a Gyro and an imported glass of wine, then hit the zaxaroplasteio for traditional Greek desserts, like baklava, kourambiethes, melomakarona and more. Live cooking demonstrations will teach guests how to prepare their festival favorites. 5-11 p.m. June 22; 3-11 p.m. June 23; 1-8 p.m. June 24. $2 per person; free 12 and under. Holy Trinity St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, 7000 Winton Road, Finneytown, panegyri.com.
St. Veronica Annual Summer Festival in Mount Carmel — This fest is drenched in nostalgia. Carnival rides, raffles and games will keep you entertained, plus, expect to be well fed with classics like hot dogs, hamburgers and barbecue. Unwind to live music performed nightly by Shut Up and Drive on Friday, Tim Snyder & Brad Kelly and the Dan Varner Band on Saturday and Jamwave with Nate Netherton on Sunday. Stock up on beard wax and get a trim at the barber if you plan to compete in the beard competition on Sunday. A chicken dinner (served 12:30-6 p.m.) will also take place on Sunday. 6 p.m.- midnight June 22; 5 p.m.- midnight June 23; 12:30-9 p.m. June 24. St. Veronica Roman Catholic Parish, 4473 Mount Carmel Tobasco Road, Mount Carmel, stveronica.org.
St. Cecilia Festival in Oakley — Live music, carnival rides, a petting zoo and a flea market will take place throughout the weekend. Plus, raffles will give you the chance to win up to $10,000. Test your luck at bingo or fine-tune your skills to win a prize for your sweetie via one of their many game booths. They’ll be serving up fair-food staples: hamburgers, funnel cake, corn on the cob, soft pretzels and more. Whatever you chose, wash it down with an ice-cold beer — craft, national and local choices will be available. Under 21 or not feelin’ alcohol? Grab a pop instead. To top it off, the Kona Ice truck will be back for 2018. 6 p.m.- midnight July 20; 5 p.m.- midnight July 21; 4-9 p.m. July 22. St. Cecilia Catholic Parish, 3105 Madison Road, Oakley, stceciliacincinnati.org.
Holy Cross-Immaculata Parish Festival in Mount Adams — Holy Cross-Immaculata is taking over Mount Adams for its end-of-summer festival. Bring the whole fam for the kick-off, neighborhood-wide scavenger hunt on Friday. It’s the parish’s biggest fundraiser of the year, and this year it also includes a festival-within-a-festival. Check out the International Food Festival for tastes across the globe, including French, Mexican, Italian, German, Asian and Greek fare. Catch the party bus (aka the free shuttle from Playhouse in the Park), then spend the weekend dancing to live music, playing games at the casino, attending silent auctions and putting your name in for a chance in the $10,000 raffle. 5:30 p.m.- midnight Aug. 3; 5:30 p.m.- midnight Aug. 4. Holy Cross-Immaculata Parish, 30 Guido St., Mount Adams, hciparish.org.
Saint Mary Funfest and 5k Run in Hyde Park — This fest kicks it up a notch with four days of fun, starting on Thursday for an adults-only night with live music, food, beer and wine. The rest of the weekend features rides, games, grilled food and a Sunday spaghetti dinner, plus a 5k race through the neighborhood. 6:30-10 p.m. Aug. 16; 6 pm.-midnight Aug. 17; 5 p.m.-midnight Aug. 18; 12:30 p.m.-8 p.m. Aug. 19. Saint Mary, 2853 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, smchp.com.
St. Bernadette Festival in Amelia — Live music will be played all three days with a heap of all-ages, family-friendly fun. There will be games and rides for kids and teenagers alike, as well as an air-conditioned casino for the adults. For those wanting to sip on something other than communion wine, this fest will serve up craft and domestic beers, margaritas and wine. Guests can dance the night away to live music and snack Italian sausage, burgers and brats, roasted corn on the cob, fresh-cut french fries, funnel cake, pizza, ice cream and of course, the Sunday chicken dinner. 6 p.m.- midnight Aug. 17; 6 p.m.- midnight Aug. 18; noon- 6 p.m. Aug. 19. St. Bernadette, 1479 Locust Lake Road, Amelia, stbameliaparish.org.