39th St. Rocco’s Feast August 6-13th

By J.D. O’Gara
Next Year Will Be Curtain Call for St. Rocco’s Feast
The second-to-last Feast of St. Rocco will take place August 6-13, with the festival portion August 10-13. Don’t miss great food, rides and entertainment!
Issue Date: 
August, 2017
Article Body: 

Cannoli, manicotti, calzone, fried dough, stuffed clams and more! You won’t want to miss the Feast of St. Rocco, opening with a Mass at St. Mary’s on August 6th at 10:30 a.m., followed by a celebration of rides and all that is delicious from Thursday, August 10th to Sunday, August 13th. This will be your second to last year to do it, as next year, its 40th year, the Feast of St. Rocco will come to its end.
“Forty years, that’s enough,” says Peter Brunelli, who’s been organizing the event for many years. This year, he’s chairing the event with other St. Rocco veterans, Tom Olsen, Frank Fiorillo and Mickey DeGrazia, with lots of help, as they always have from Paula Coughlin. “We just decided we’ve been doing good, and getting help is a little harder, and we want to go out on top. Some people think, well, St. Rocco’s comes, and two weeks before, we start putting things together, but Paula can attest that it’s more like a year before.”
Brunelli says that generations of families have volunteered for the event. At the cannoli booth, for example, great-grandchildren of the original folks filling the cannolis now do it.
Brunelli says he wants people in Franklin to remember the Feast of St. Rocco as a splendid family event.
“We don’t want people saying it wasn’t the same as it used to be,” he says, with a nod from Coughlin. “The members got together, and we decided it’s time. We want everybody to come for the last time to see us off.”
This North-End style feast, the brainchild of Father R. Michael Guarino in 1979, according to St. Mary’s website (stmarysfranklin.org), is a family-oriented religious, social, and cultural event. The feast honors Saint Rocco, the patron saint of the sick and impoverished, who was born (with a red cross birthmark) in Montpelier, France toward the end of the 13th century. Saint Rocco is said to have inherited great wealth, but gave up his material possessions. A man of great faith, he is said to have devoted his time and effort to the infirm, healing the sick.
A statue of St. Rocco stands on the grounds where the annual Feast is held. Nick Verna, a parish member, donated the statue in 1959, in honor of his mother. As a child, Nick had been very ill. His mother took him to a shrine of St. Rocco, and when he recovered, she believed that Verna had the patron saint to thank for his life. In fact, the Feast of St. Rocco always features a Mass for the Sick on the field, and this year it will take place on August 12th, at 10 a.m. The St. Rocco statue, in fact, is featured as part of the festival, and on the final day, after a 10:30 a.m. Mass, a procession will carry the statue back to the festival grounds.
Each night and afternoon of the festival will feature rides and, of course, food.
This year, they’ll have all the old standbys. Bring your appetite for Italian cannoli, eggplant, manicotti, fried dough, chicken parm, fresh squeezed lemonade, stuffies (stuffed quahogs) and sides (also have chicken dinner, sampler platter, chicken tenders, toasted ravioli, mozzarella sticks, mac & cheese bites), calzones (including original Rocco calzone—individual ones), Belgian waffles, fried clams and clam cakes and chowder, and tomato, basil and pepper salad, to name just a few of the treats.
“John Ristaino’s going to make antipasto,” says Brunelli, of the gentleman who runs the sub booth.
In all, at least 12 food booths are set up by what Brunelli estimates are 600 volunteers. St. Mary’s has acquired a collection of items for the festival, from tables and chairs to grills, fryolators, tent poles and electrical poles and stoves, that awaken from their hibernation each year for the event.
The fun event also includes rides, supplied by Fiesta Rides, as well as entertainment. This year, entertainment includes
Friday: The Reminiscents (50s and 60s music) 6-10 p.m.
Saturday: DJ on the Bandstand (on festival grounds) 1:30-4:30; Sea Breeze 6-10 p.m.
Sunday: DJ on the Bandstand 12-4 p.m.; Jerry Seeco Band 4-7 p.m.; DJ Bobby Costello 7-9 p.m.,
“All three bands are always booked a year in advance,” says Brunelli. “They’re happy to come back; we’re happy to have them; people know them and follow them.”
In addition to the food and rides, attendees can also visit the Italia booth to take part in raffles for the event. This year, they can try their luck on two handmade New England Patriots-themed quilts, made by Connie Camuso, among other items.
The event also needs volunteers. Those interested in volunteering for the Feast of Saint Rocco can call the rectory at (508) 528-0020 and speak to Paula Coughlin. You can also follow the Feast of Saint Rocco at stmarysfranklin.org or on Facebook under “Feast of Saint Rocco Franklin Mass.”
“Make sure to come this year and next year, because it will end after 40 years,” says Brunelli, who notes that once the festival ends, Fr. Manning will still continue to hold a Mass for St. Rocco each year in August. “We’ve had a good 40 years taking care of the people of Franklin and surrounding towns.”