LINCOLN (SNR) - All are invited to celebrate various Hispanic and Latino cultures represented among Lincoln-area Catholics at the 22nd annual Kermes (festival) at Cristo Rey Parish Saturday, June 16, from noon to 8 p.m.
Martha Balderas, parish secretary, estimates that there are seven or eight different cultures among the current parishioners who attend Cristo Rey. All will be represented at Kermes in different ways.
Kermes began even before Cristo Rey moved into a renovated Protestant Church at 4221 J Street.
"Before, we used to do it at the Cristo Rey Center on Starr Street," Mrs. Balderas said.
The parish was founded by Bishop Glennon Flavin in 1988, specifically to serve Catholics in Lincoln and the surrounding areas who come from Spanish-speaking countries. His desire was for all Hispanic immigrants to feel at home in the Church as they adjust to living in the United States.
Father Ramon Decaen, pastor of Cristo Rey and director of the diocesan Hispanic Ministry, said that the parish is now home to 800 households.
Kermes is the parish’s main fundraiser, and a great time for all Catholics to learn more about the rich cultural heritages reflected among Cristo Rey’s vibrant community.
Parishioners are eager to welcome people from all over the city to experience the fun games, delicious homemade food and Hispanic-style entertainment that makes every Kermes a memorable occasion.
Mrs. Balderas invited people to try their hand at Mexican-style bingo.
"Instead of numbers, it has people or things, like the sun, the stars," she explained.
Children will especially enjoy the bouncy house, a face-painting booth, a dunk tank and tossing darts to pop balloons, among other carnival games.
Adults may want to enter the raffle with its $1,000 top prize. There is a $400 second prize and a $200 third prize, plus plenty of gift certificates and other items to win.
"As much as we get, we give away," said Mrs. Balderas.
Delicious scents of authentic, homemade Mexican and Salvadoran cuisine permeate the air throughout the festival. Mrs. Balderas said she’s partial to the tacos, but there’s lots of good food to choose from, including tamales and enchiladas.
Mrs. Balderas also recommended sampling the aguas frescas (fresh waters), a lemonade-style drink that comes in a rainbow of flavors, each made with different kind of fruits.
"It’s very traditional in Mexico and very good," she stated.
As guests enjoy their meals and aguas fescas, there will be some wonderful entertainment.
"We’re going to have a lot of traditional dances, and music also," said Mrs. Balderas.
A number of people from the parish belong to various traditional music groups and dance troupes, and they will be performing throughout the festival. The parish is also bringing in a professional Catholic singer from Texas, Maribel, who is always popular with the crowd.
"It’s for everybody," Mrs. Balderas stressed. "Everyone is welcome to come and visit and experience our culture."
Since Kermes is set up in the parking lot at Cristo Rey, guests are invited to park in the neighborhood and walk over to the parish. There are plenty of shady streets in the 42nd and J area.
For more information, please call the parish at (402) 327-2170.