Years ago when I was a student at St. Albert grade school, church picnics were all I looked forward to once school let out for the summer. I’ll be honest, around the age of 12, I only went to summer picnics to socialize with friends while checking out my grade school crushes, but, as I’ve grown up a little since then, I’ve found that summer picnics aren’t just about shamelessly flirting with the cute boy in school. They’re about reconnecting with old friends and family and getting to know the people in the community.
Last weekend I attended St. Gabriel’s church picnic, located at 5505 Bardstown Road, to experience the great food, games and a little gambling – it’s a Catholic picnic, did you expect anything less?
When I first arrived at St. Gabriel’s, I headed straight toward the cafeteria for the home cooked meal that included fried chicken, green beans, cole saw and a dessert table filled with pie and cake. It seemed as if everyone had the same idea as me, as the food line went out the door.
One of the visitors at St. Gabriel was Helen Lincoln who told me why she came out to the picnic this year.
“This isn’t our parish,” Lincoln said. “I wanted a good dinner and didn’t want to cook so my husband said St. Gabriel is having a picnic and they always have good food. I think all of the picnics usually have great food.”
The entire dinner was cooked by volunteers who had to work especially hard with hundreds of guests waiting to be served inside the crowded cafeteria.
After a little bit of a wait, I finally had the chance to sit down and enjoy dinner. While walking into the cafeteria, I ran into several old family friends and acquaintances and also introduced myself to a few new people.
The communal tables inside the cafeteria invited conversation with friends and strangers, and everyone inside seemed to enjoy each other’s company. The community atmosphere is one of the best aspects of summer picnics, and while I was there, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgia for both grade school lunchtime and the picnics I attended as a kid.
Once I finished dinner, I headed outside to all of the booths I had loved as a kid: four-in-a-row, the cake booth, spin-the-wheel, the stuffed animal booths and my all-time-favorite, Plinko.
I didn’t quite have the touch I used to with spin-the-wheel or Plinko, but for only 10 cents a try, I wasn’t too upset that I walked away empty-handed. There were also a few other games and rides I was a little too old to enjoy this time around, such as the giant inflatable slide and gym and the spinning wheel in the back of St. Gabriel’s parking lot.
All these years later, the kids area wasn’t exactly for me. But this time, I was finally of age to experience a whole different side of summer picnics: the poker and blackjack tables.
After a few hours at St. Gabriel, and a few failed attempts to win a cake or a Yankees stuffed bear, I headed home. Though I didn’t win any prizes, I did leave with a full stomach and the desire to head back to the other summer picnics I hadn’t visited since grade school.
There’s such a great energy at church picnics that brings a sense of community and fun for everyone who attends. Both young and old come out to celebrate their parish or visit others in the city, while experiencing the great food, games and exciting atmosphere where you can reunite with old friends and family.
Upcoming church picnics
- Friday and Saturday, Aug. 12-13: St. Joseph Orphans’ Picnic: Held at St. Joseph Children’s Home, 2823 Frankfort Ave., the picnic will kick off with a concert on Friday. For information, visit www.sjkids.org/picnic_about.
- Friday and Saturday, Aug. 12-13: St. Rita Picnic, 8709 Preston Highway. For details, visit www.saintrita.net.
- Saturday, Aug. 27: Mount St. Francis Indiana Picnic, 101 St. Anthony Drive, Mount St. Francis, Ind. Visit www.mountsaintfrancis.org for information.
photos by ASHLEY ANDERSON | Voice-Tribune
Category: Out & About
About the Author (Author Profile)
Ashley spends half her time writing stories at The Voice-Tribune office and half her time out on the town conducting interviews, while occasionally dressing in wild outfits to fully immerse herself in the experience (aka Princess Leia at Comic Con). Ashley is a huge UofL fan and loves the Yankees and the Boston Celtics (she is fully aware of the irony). She hopes to one day outshine Erin Andrews on ESPN and enjoys running, Bardstown Road/Fourth Street, Breaking Bad and reality TV (she’s not ashamed to admit that).