UNLEASH THE FEAST: St. Rocco's kicks off 81st celebration


It was 5 o’clock Monday evening and Jeremy Bousquet had just finished climbing a ladder and began hammering nails into a corner of two pieces of long lumber when someone asked: “What are you guys doing?”

Bousquet was joined by Bruce Baker and David Charron – who made sure the ladder didn’t move –  quickly replied: “We’re building the frame for the Straw Game!”

The Straw Game, for people who’ve never attended what this weekend will be the 81st Saint Rocco’s Church Feast and Festival, is one of many traditions of the family, fun and food fest hosted by the Women’s Guild and featuring more than 100,000 hand-rolled straws and upwards of 500 prizes.

It’s also one of the many offerings hundreds upon hundreds of Rhode Islanders will enjoy, after the feast began Thursday night, and will continue through Sunday night at the Roman Catholic parish grounds located at 927 Atwood Ave. in Johnston.

Meanwhile, veteran Co-Chairman Richard Montella, who shares that honor with the ageless John Ricci – along with CFA (Church Friends Association) President-elect Dan Parrillo – walked swiftly under the 90-foot wide and 120-foot long “Big Top” that will house everything from extraordinary eats, all of which will be homemade, to excellent entertainment, a number of food, pastry, games and religious booths during the next three days making sure everything was in place.

Meanwhile, workers for Harold Fera’s famed Rockwell Amusements were setting up various rides and games the traveling carnival will have open for people of all ages during the feast and festival that returns after being cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Perhaps that’s why there were, as someone suggested, “Volunteers Unlimited” all over the Saint Rocco’s grounds earlier this week to prepare for what Rev. Angelo N. Carusi, Montella, Ricci and others hope will be as record setting crowd.

Proud parishioners of all ages – like Wayne Martini and his wife Jennifer, to youngsters like Saint Rocco’s School student Alessandro Fava along with Alisha, Elijah and Joseph Mitchell – performed a number of duties readying for this weekend’s feast and festival.

In keeping with tradition, there will be a religious side to the four-day event highlighted by Sunday’s 11 a.m. Saint Rocco’s Feast Mass that will be followed by the annual procession.

“Our doors are wide open.” Montella offered with a special welcome ring to his voice. “Please come and enjoy our feast and festival; there will be plenty of great food.”

Thus, Montella added: “We’ll have our popular doughboys, pasta with meatballs and sausage, rib eye steak sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs, Italian sandwiches of meatballs eggplant, sausage with peppers and onions and we sell three sausage sandwiches every minute of the feast.

There will also be French fries, chicken tenders, rabi and provolone, stuffies and as Montella exclaimed: “All our food items are handmade, nothing is purchased frozen. There will also be a wide assortment of homemade cookies and pasties.”


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