By Jack King
Father Sotero Sena took time out for a shower Saturday after serving as a target in the pie-throwing booth, but in no time he was back in the food tent downing a funnel cake.
Being a mainstay of Our Lady of Guadalupe/San Jose Mission’s annual fiesta is hard work, said Sena, the church’s pastor.
“Fifteen minutes in the pie booth is long enough. I let the little ones come up and rub a cream pie on my face, just to make sure they got me, but I’m scared of the grown-ups. They throw those pies hard,” he said.
The fiesta, which started Friday evening with a banquet and talent show (winners: first place Virginia Gutierrez, singing “El Rey;” second place Maria Lucero, singing “Wait A Minute;” third place Susan Cooper, singing “A Thousand Angels”) is Our Lady of Guadalupe’s biggest yearly fund-raiser. The money earned this year will help fund an expansion of the church’s kitchen, but the money isn’t its most important product, Sena said.
“The real reason is fellowship, getting together, community. Yes, fund-raising is a part of it, but, the celebration is just as important,” he said.
Each year parishioners volunteer to create and staff booths for the fiesta. This year over 15 booths, including a duck pond, a fish pond, a cake walk and even a “pickle walk,” lined the parish hall parking lot, offering prizes and seducing 25-cent tickets from the hands of young and old.
From the food tent, the aromas of funnel cakes, candy apples, flautas, chili dogs and menudo combined to beckon the unwary waist line, while from the music tent the accordion strains of Corazon Salvaje a local, young Norteno band had just begun to rattle the air Saturday afternoon.
Being a volunteer means getting into the carnival atmosphere of the fiesta, said parishioners Raymond and Lorraine Johnson, who, this year, manned a “pull string” booth.
Raymond said what makes the job fun is watching the excitement of the kids. “But, actually, I get a little excited, too,” he added, going into his best carnival barker routine and calling, “Hurry, hurry, hurry. Pull a string and you always win.”
“And the food,” laughed Lorraine, “let’s see, so far I’ve had a burrito, a funnel cake and flautas. That’s what I look forward to.”
The fiesta ends tonight with a raffle and bingo game at 7 p.m. in the parish hall, said coordinators Martha and Robert Telles. But Sena said he is still game.
“I invite everyone to come out at 2 p.m. Sunday and throw another cream pie at me,” he said.