Annual Parish Festivals

The largest summer event for the city of Utica became the annual St. Lawrence Festival. This was not only a fundraiser for the parish but an event bringing every member together. Chicken dinners were the specialty, and people from all over the area (as far away as Toledo, Ohio) returned year after year. In preparation for the festival, parishioners were assigned to make their rounds to the church members before the festival to prepare a checklist of chickens, vegetables, homemade pies and other items they were going to donate. Raymond DuRussell annually donated all the potatoes needed for the dinners.

Two days before the festival, the chickens were taken to Neumaier's meat market in Utica, where the men dressed them and the women plucked the pin feathers. On the Saturday before the festival, women cooked thousands of pounds of chickens, peeled bushel after bushel of potatoes (by hand) and baked hundreds of pies. Men set up tables and chairs and set up tents. People worked from dawn till dusk. The dinners were served Sunday, following the 11:00 a.m. Mass, until the food was gone. Bingo and wheel games, as well as a huge raffle with a car as first prize all contributed to the success of this annual undertaking.

It was a wonderful way to share with family and friends and to bring the parish community closer together. Throughout all the preparations, Fr. DeKeyser helped wherever he was needed - he often was seen mopping floors after the festival was