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Jacki Howden

Jacki Howden, secretary at St. Bonaventure Church in Allegany, looks over several baskets and items that can be won during the annual Bonafest event Friday.

ALLEGANY — When attendees stop by the annual Bonafest event from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Friday at St. Bonaventure Church in Allegany, they will participate in festivities that are part of a new format of fundraisers sponsored throughout the year by the parish.

Father James Vacco, pastor of the parish, said the longtime festival on the grounds of the church at 95. E. Main St. is now part of fundraisers also held in the fall and spring. The parish festival is celebrating its 102nd year.

In the Saint Bonaventure newsletter to his parishioners, Vacco said the year-round fundraisers began with the Fall Harvest Dinner, followed by the Spring Steak Bake and concludes with the Bonafest chicken barbecue and related activities.

“As I have mentioned before, the proceeds from the Bonafest go to pay our $20,000 yearly insurance bill,” Vacco wrote to his parishioners. “Without Bonafest, we would need to use funds from the regular collection income, which would mean weakening in our financial stability.”

Jacki Howden, secretary for the church, said that in addition to the chicken barbecue at 5 p.m., Bonafest visitors will be able to purchase grilled hot dogs, sausage sandwiches, pizza, popcorn and beverages. Also on-hand will be live entertainment performed by the Sticktights as well as a number of games and raffles.  

Kim Ayers, chairperson of Bonafest, said the event’s annual chicken dinner, purchased with $10 pre-ordered tickets, is doing well.

“We’re over the mark for the chicken barbecue tickets and we’re in line with the big money raffle tickets,” Ayers said, noting the top raffle prize is $5,000. “We give away $11,000 total.”

In addition to basket raffles, other prizes raffled off this year include a kayak as well as a handmade oak chest crafted by Bob Carl. Also, The Bridge used clothing store, located next to the church, will have a 50 percent off sale of all clothes from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the event.

In commenting on the one-day Bonafest, which used to be held for two days, Ayers said the parish also is reconfiguring events for another reason.

“We’re trying to keep the parish more involved” in the community, she explained.

For example, a number of church members went on a kayaking trip on the Allegheny River in mid-June.

“We were trying to get more of the youth involved,” Ayers said.

Howden said the parishioners, as always, have been very supportive of Bonafest by donating baskets and items for the raffle, and providing volunteer help for the event. A Bonafest Fortune Wheel, containing a number of scratch-off lottery tickets, and a jar of “cold hard cash,”  can also be won in the raffles.

Howden said there are well over 30 baskets and other items donated by parishioners, that can be won.

“This morning we had seven more baskets brought in” to the parish office, Howden said on Tuesday.

On a related note, Howden said the basket raffle, previously named after Sister Ceil, has been renamed “Maggie’s Baskets” in honor of Maggie Stady, who has organized the event the last seven years and now has health issues.

For more information on Bonafest, to purchase chicken barbecue tickets or raffle tickets, contact the parish office at 373-1330.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)