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Author: Ariel Landrum

Remember the end scene from Grease, where the graduates of Rydell High had a senior carnival? It seemed like this lively farewell for the end of the year was Hollywood make-believe, that schools didn’t really put on such an extravaganza for their students. Although these may seem like fantasy, the yearly homecoming weekend festival for St. Francis de Sales would prove this myth as fact.

“The Biggest Little Fair in the Valley,” as it has been deemed, is a 3-day festival held during the first weekend in May. This annual fair holds free concerts, a fireworks show, and a variety of carnival games and rides for many ages. Aside from connecting the neighboring community, the gathering aims to obtain proceeds that directly funnel back into the school. These funds help foster educational programs and help families cover the costs of schooling that may not apply to tuition.

Folks of all ages are invited to this fun-filled weekend. However, there are a few basic tips that newcomers should be aware of. First off, parking is limited, so carpool, walk, or come early to ensure a stress-free experience. Secondly, the best bands play Saturday night, but it’s also the most packed, so prepare for large crowds and grab a spot in the front row a half hour before showtime. During the day, dodge the gleeful children running around throwing confetti eggs at each other. Lastly, many families are industry families, so although a celebrity may walk among the crowd, remember that they are with their loved ones; be starstruck but don’t ask for photos or an autograph.

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The 2017 festival differed from previous years because the Silent Auction was available online. Formerly, the only chance attendees had at bidding on some sweet merchandise was to be present and attempt frequent trips to the bidding areas to keep a spot for their desired item. This year the committee went digital, allowing competitors to watch items, receive alerts if they were outbid, and pay through an app. Those vital changes allowed people to take part in the celebration remotely, as well as a convenient pickup system as the item was already paid for.

Saturday, May 6, was one of the most anticipated nights of the festival, showcasing the star-studded rock band Royal Machines. Created from every corner of the rock genre, the group featured Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray, Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction, Donovan Leitch and Franky Perez of Camp Freddy, Dean Butterworth of Good Charlotte, Chris Chaney of Jane’s Addiction, and Dave Kushner of Velvet Revolver. They even had special guest Sebastian Bach of Skid Row bring down the house with the band. Such a roster would cost fans hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Festival visitors simply paid the price of the cost of kettle corn.

The eclectic sounds from Royal Machines brought out classic rock anthems, including a memorable “Paradise City” performance by Guns and Roses. Bach took command of the stage, and the special effects crew implemented perfectly timed pyrotechnics to his head banging. What could have been a modest show turned into an all-out rock fest. The group held nothing back.

The food vendors, local businesses, volunteers, and amazing musicians performed for the school, not for money but in alignment with the philanthropic heart of the event. Next year’s affair will take place May 4-6, 2018. Go for the fun and, more importantly, support the students.

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