For two days each year, the front yard of Saint Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church is transformed into an enormous fair.
If you travel along Falls of Neuse Road in North Raleigh, you can’t help but notice the Ferris wheel, the games and all the people enjoying themselves. It’s a tradition that dates back some four decades, and it returns this Friday and Saturday.
The Fair at Saint Raphael’s is loaded with traditional fair entertainment. There are rides that spin and whirl, games such as the milk bottle toss and skee ball, and there is food – plenty of food.
Organizers say the food truck rodeo at the fair this year will be bigger than ever. Hungry fairgoers will be able to eat their way through numerous cuisines and top it all off with cupcakes and ice cream.
The fair also includes a special casino night from 7-10 p.m. Saturday and live musical performances that range from bluegrass to classic rock to high school percussion.
Fair Chairman George Stephenson is expecting a big crowd.
“Based on the ride sales and food sales, the estimate is that (4,000) to 5,000 people come between the two days,” Stephenson says.
Throwing a party that large is a big undertaking for the church and its crew of volunteers.
“We start planning it a year in advance. Essentially the planning starts for next year as soon as this year is over,” Stephenson says.
Proceeds from the fair contribute to church programs like scouting, the Saint Raphael school and the general fund of the church. But besides being a fundraiser, Stephenson says the event is an important community outreach.
“It means tradition and the church’s commitment to give back to the community,” he says. “It is free admission and open to the public, and it really is a grand family event. There is something for kids of all ages.”
There is a charge for the rides and games; advance tickets can be purchased through the fair’s website at saintraphaelfair.com.
The Fair at Saint Raphael’s is open from 5-11 p.m. Friday and 1-11 p.m. Saturday. The church is located at 5801 Falls of Neuse Road.
There will be a worship service from 9 a.m. to noon, followed by preaching in the afternoon at The Stone Church at 240 Newton Road. Admission is free, but participants must register in advance on the event’s page at eventbrite.com.
At 7 p.m. Saturday, foreverJONES will perform in a larger venue, Breakthrough Church at 1100 Perimeter Park Drive in Morrisville. The concert is also free, but seating is limited and attendees are asked to register on the event’s page at eventbrite.com
The daytime event and the nighttime event each require a separate ticket.