Taking a delicious deep-fried dip in church festival season | local news

It probably isn’t healthy to be enthusiastic about fried dough that’s dipped in sugar.

But when this delicacy — which has many names, including “Italian cake” and “fried dough” — is served up by volunteers at a church festival, the indulgence turns into a religious experience.

After enduring a summer without any festivals in 2020 and then a very limited season in 2021, local church festivals are back in full force, starting today.

Fittingly, the Mount Carmel Church Festival, which opens at 6 p.m. in Columbus Park, is a great source for Italian donuts.

In fact, this festival was where I first experienced the legend of Kenosha.

I was joined in this endeavor by fellow donut novice, my husband, Rex, but first we had to find the elusive donut.

After crossing the festival grounds – twice – we were thrown into a game of donuts: we needed to cross the street and head to the garage. There, they exchanged cash for cakes.

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“Going to a second location makes this even more exciting,” Rex said as we crept toward the donut garage. “It lends more weight to its shadowy reputation and feels somewhat illegal.”

This year, however, those donuts are taking to the festival grounds. No more sneaking across the street to fix you up.

“People will no longer have to walk into the church garage area to get their favorite Italian dough,” said Tom Rizzo, longtime president of the Mount Carmel Festival. “It will now be properly made on the park floor.”

Of course, Rizzo says, this fried dough is the best fried dough.

“No other parish comes close to the flair we have,” he said. “Some are trying very hard, but there is no doubt that Mount Carmel is peaks with little evidence of the incessant long queues waiting for it.” Just to be sure, I suggest sampling the fried dough at every local festival.

In addition to this fried goodness, Rizzo is thrilled that the church festival is back for the first time since 2019.

“This is our 73rd annual festival, minus the last two years because you know what,” he said. “If we didn’t have to miss the past two years, it would have been our 75th, but we’ll get there.”

Rizzo mentions other highlights of the festival, including a homemade spaghetti dinner – “The Amazing Ladies of the Diocese makes about 1,200 pounds of homemade pasta and about 220 gallons of homemade sauce, not to mention thousands of homemade geniette, biscotti, and taralle cakes. And also” Homemade egg rolls. “The parishioner’s Doan family makes about 10,000 egg rolls, which is always a big hit,” Rizzo said.


Food is a big focus of course, as is entertainment.

The bands playing this year, Rizzo said, “show some of the best that Kenosha and an out-of-town couple have to offer, with a strong patriotic celebration Saturday night,” adding, “Four of our six shows this year feature women in lead vocals.”

Festival music starts today with Take 4, with Katherine Perry’s voice of Kinosha’s, from 6 to 8 p.m., Boys and Games from 9 to 11 p.m.

A female band performs on Saturdays: Serendipity, a five-piece band from the Chicago area, 5-7:30 p.m., The Jersey Girls, 8:30-11 p.m. Despite its name, the Jersey Girls band It is a Chicago area troupe that performs all over the country, and debuts at the festival.

Rizzo said that the members of Serendipity “literally grew up in front of us in Mount Carmel, having played here for several years.”

Sunday’s music starts with what Rizzo calls “Kenosha’s old favorite, The Chevelles, leading us from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Talk about harmony! These guys sound as good as they did 50 years ago, singing songs when music was music.”

The closing of the festival on Sunday is Tailspin, from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

“These might be some of the best musicians the city has to offer,” said Rizzo. “Irene McKeown Richio leads the band with her amazing voice.”


Another cherished tradition of the Mount Carmel Festival each year is the Sunday Parade, in which the statue of the Blessed Mother is shown carrying through the Columbus Park area.

The procession begins at 1 p.m. on Sundays (lineups begin at 12:30 p.m.) in front of the church, 1919 54th Street, and ends at Chapel with Blessing at 2 p.m.

“Mount Carmel is the only parish in southeastern Wisconsin — and perhaps the entire state — that still has this wonderful tradition,” Rizzo said.

Besides being good for the soul, procession can motivate you to work out at least a few fried dough calories.

Now, get out there and start the celebration.

Do you have a comment? Email Liz at [email protected] or call her at 262-656-6271.

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