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Fiesta!! is Saturday

POSTED: September 1, 2011 7:00 a.m.
Alan Rusch/

A young Fiesta!! goer enjoys the 2010 event at Kanopolis. The public is welcome to the annual fundraiser for the St. Ignatius Catholic Church.

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Family, food, fun, faith and raising enough money to keep the church doors open another year — these are what the annual St. Ignatius Catholic Church Fiesta is all about.
This year’s Fiesta is Saturday, Sept. 3, at the church in Kanopolis.
“I’ve been working little by little — every day I do something,” said organizer Bert Rojas of Kanopolis, who has been involved with the Fiesta for 56 years.
“It seems to me we have a lot more time to get ready for it,” said Kanopolis native Tomasa Cisneros. “For some reason or another, this year hasn’t seemed so stressful.”
“It’s been going very smooth,” added Georgia Wilkinson of Kanopolis.
At 83 years of age, Wilkinson has been involved with the Fiesta since she was 12.
“We wouldn’t have the church, if we didn’t have the Fiesta,” Cisneros said. “We used to have Mass in different houses in town. Even though we had the Fiesta before the church was here, it was our big fund-raiser towards getting a church.”
The driving force behind the fund-raising effort was Father Ignatius Manzo.
In 1944, Father Manzo and Msgr. John Duskie procured a war surplus chapel from the World War II-era Camp Phillips, which stood south of Salina. George Andrews donated the land for the chapel and in 1947, the bishop dedicated the St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Church.
Any description of the Fiesta wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the delicious and traditional homemade Mexican food that is available at outside carry out food stands and in the church basement starting at 11 a.m. the day of the Fiesta.
“The food is going to be the same as last year,” Cisneros said. “We’ll have tostadas, enchiladas, tacos and tamales. We made 1,550 tamales. We’ve had a few new people helping us. They came and we got them all done in one day. Even though they were not real experienced on it, they got there.”
“They were right in the middle of it, and we appreciate it very much,” Wilkinson said.
American fare, including homemade pies and ice cream for dessert, will also be available. Meals will be served in the church basement, with a booth for carry-out orders outside.
Rojas said she and Cisneros will be at the church at 2 a.m. on the day of the Fiesta to lay out the tamales.
“We cook some of the tamales downstairs and then we cook some in our outside building,” Cisneros said.
Cisneros said when the Fiesta first started, each family would have their own food stand.
“They would donate so much money to the church from the profits,” she said. “But when Father Manzo came, he organized us all.”
The long lines of hungry diners eagerly waiting their chance to sink their teeth into some authentic Mexican fare warms the hearts of longtime Fiesta works such as Cisneros, Rojas and Wilkinson.
“It makes us feel good, to know the people are still coming and they like the food that much to come from out of town,” Cisneros said. “It’s a tradition that we carry through from our ancestors. I look forward to the Fiesta every year, and hope that Bert can continue to be the organizer.”
“You see familiar faces from long ago,” Wilkinson added. “It seems there is always someone who shows up that hasn’t been here for a long time.”
Rojas remembers in the 1970s, when the Fiesta featured Mexican dancers.
“When I was a kid, our Fiesta was three days long,” Cisneros said. “We had a parade, we crowned a queen, gave readings, and sing Mexican songs and dress up in our native costumes.”
Cisneros said it would be great to have the people to put the Fiesta on as it was years ago.
“We had a jail house and Georgie’s mom, Jovita Diaz, was always the sheriff. “She used to wear her big sombrero and bandoleers, with guns on her side.”
“Young high school girls would sell flowers for boutonnieres,” Wilkinson said. “If the men didn’t buy them, they would take them to jail. Then somebody had to bail them out.”
The Fiesta’s annual Mass will be at 4 p.m. There will also be games, including the fish pond, a dart throw, and bingo and a drawing for $500.
“We pray that people will keep coming and the parishioners will keep volunteering,” Cisneros said. “A lot of the parishioners that show up on that day are not active members of the church. But they still show up on Fiesta day if they are in town to help out. We really appreciate all of that.”

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