“The festival is all about families having fun,” said Sheila Eveland co-chairperson of the Most Holy Name of Jesus Fall Festival held November 16 through 19. The iconic event, now in its 47th year, is a popular seasonal tradition in Gulfport and features carnival rides, games, music, merchant tables with books, arts and crafts, food and chances to win prizes from local merchants.
The event raises money for the general church fund, which includes upkeep and additions to the church.
“We were able to save very old stained-glass windows from an old church that was in Tampa and also replace the old floors in the church,” said Eveland. “In the future we hope to upgrade the audio system in the church.”
This year, bing ball, a game like bingo except you get to throw a small bouncing ball at your bingo card, was a sensation among the adults at the festival. Participants chose prizes and could cash them in for better ones the more they won.
“I have lived in Gulfport and have been coming to the festival since 1988,” said bing ball player and big winner Sandy Balaharri in between tosses.
Others, like Ray Quimby from Dolphin Cay, came out for some people watching. “The wives went shopping so we stopped by for some barbecue and beers,” he said.
And the rides weren’t just for kids. “When I’m not chasing the kids from ride to ride,” said Gulfport resident Darryl Turley. “I like the Ferris wheel.”