Our Lady of Guadalupe holding fund-raising fiesta

Sally Romero of Clovis hangs decorations Thursday for the Fiesta weekend celebration at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. The annual fund-raiser begins tonight with a dinner and variety show. (Staff photo: Tony Bullocks)

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

The parking lot across from Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church was abuzz with activity Thursday morning.

Brightly painted wooden booths stood partially constructed in the center of the lot while several young men worked diligently with hammers to pitch a large tent. Two similar coverings lay rolled up nearby awaiting assembly. The oversize awnings will provide shade to several more vendors during the weekend’s festivities.

The construction is in preparation for the Catholic church’s annual Fiesta to be held today through Sunday. The family-oriented event will feature music, entertainment, food and games.

According to event coordinator Sammy Martinez, Our Lady of Guadalupe utilizes the Fiesta as a yearly fund-raiser. Martinez said the 2005 Fiesta brought in approximately $20,000, an amount he hopes to exceed this year by cutting down on expenses. “All the participating vendors are parishioners of the church,” Martinez said, “and all the money raised goes to the church.”

Committee member Juanita Mondragon said the event is staffed entirely by volunteers. “Church members sign up to work shifts,” she said. “Everyone helps out.”

About six months ago, the church completed renovations on the Parish Hall. According to Mondragon, the large metal building located across from the church needed to be brought up to code. The kitchen was updated, new appliances were installed and the restroom facilities were enlarged to accommodate more people, she said.

Mondragon said the building is vital to the parish because it is used for a variety of church functions. “Weekly bingo games are held there,” she said, “and the youth uses it for activities.”

Martinez said church officials hope to use monies raised by the fund-raiser to pay off the debt incurred by the renovations.

“We are expecting between 5,000 and 6,000 people,” Martinez said, “There should be a good turnout since Sunday is Mother’s Day.”