Barb Kusmierczak is all too familiar with what it takes to run an Italian Fest booth, having been in charge of Junior Service Club’s booth for the last 10 years and having worked with her son’s Cub Scout and Boy Scout booths before that.
“It was kind of funny, this year at the food safety seminar, the lady that teaches it looked at me and she goes, ‘You’ve been coming for a long time,’” Kusmierczak said.
The seminar is just one of the many things Kusmierczak said is on her to-do list to prepare for Italian Fest. She has to start thinking about Junior Service Club’s booth two months before the opening ceremonies of the fest.
Paperwork for a booth is due in July, then there are two meetings that organizations must attend in August: a vendor meeting and the food safety seminar. During early September, Kusmierczak said she’s gathering supplies.
“I’ll watch for when paper towels go on sale or I go and get the napkins that we use. We use about 4,000 napkins,” Kusmierczak said.
Junior Service Club’s booth will offer toasted ravioli, and the organization owns two fryers specifically for its Italian Fest food. The investment was necessary because Kusmierczak said this coming weekend will be the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year.
“Without the funds from Italian Fest, we would have to come up with at least one, if not two or more fundraisers to make up for funds just from that one weekend,” Kusmierczak said.
The funds are used to support a variety of Junior Service Club’s charities and projects, including two scholarships for female high school graduates, aid for families of children who can’t afford to get the dental or medical exams necessary to enroll in school and several others.
Kusmierczak said Junior Service Club’s booth wouldn’t be possible without the help of many in the community, including AmeriGas, which donates propane tanks to the organization each year.
But there’s one man Kusmierczak said she couldn’t run the booth without. His name is Leonard Covarrubias and he fries the ravioli.
“He is there at set-up on Thursday night. He is there from open to close on Friday and Saturday. … Every year, I say that we could not do Italian Fest if it wasn’t for him,” Kusmierczak said.
Covarrubias’ wife Paula is no longer active in Junior Service Club, but he continues to take off work in order to help out during Italian Fest, Kusmierczak said.
“You just have to have a type of person that understands how important the event is and who is willing to do something like that to make it successful,” Kusmierczak said.
Visit Junior Service Club’s booth near the corner of Main and Center Street to sample Covarrubias’ toasted ravioli and to enter the organization’s basket raffle.