The food is a highlight, no doubt.
But the annual Sausage Fest, which draws thousands of people to Christ the King church in Richland each September, is about more than that, organizers said.
It’s about making connections, serving others and raising money for a good cause, said Maria Castillo, who’s leading this year’s event, along with her husband, Gary.
Plus, it’s a blast. Through the event, “we want to bring our community together in a fun way,” Maria Castillo said.
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This year’s festival is Friday and Saturday at Christ the King, 1111 Stevens Drive.
Hours are 5 p.m. to midnight on Friday and 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturday. Admission is free.
Along with the food — from the signature sausages in a variety of flavors to fresh-picked corn and plenty more — the event also features indoor and outdoor beer gardens, two dozen-plus games, arts and crafts, bingo, a farmers market, a Granny’s Attic with yard sale items and live entertainment.
The acts scheduled to perform range from Colorblind and VooDoo Alley to Diamond Ridge Cloggers and performers from Academy of Children’s Theatre.
Sausage Fest raises money for Christ the King School. The Castillos became involved in the school more than a decade ago, when their older kids, Gary John and Dani, started attending.
They found in the private Catholic school a place that supported and enriched their family, Maria Castillo said.
It’s become an important part of their lives. And the Sausage Fest is a special tradition.
In 2008, the Castillos’ youngest child John, now a third-grader, was born on Sausage Fest weekend. Maria could look out on the Sausage Fest tents from her room at Kadlec Regional Medical Center.
“He’s a Sausage Fest baby. He was destined to make us Sausage Fest chairs one day,” she said with a laugh.
The event means a lot of work for the Castillos — and for the many people who help make it happen.
All told, about 2,200 volunteers have logged more than 5,500 hours on the event, Castillo said.
But, she said, it’s worth the effort.
“It’s a great event,” Castillo said.