For Peg Dienhoffer, co-chairwoman of St. Anthony of Padua’s yearly festival, the event marks the beginning of summer in Cortland. That it came Saturday closer to the end of the summer than the beginning — and that it was drive-through only — didn’t dampen her enthusiasm.
Friends and relatives traditionally meet to share their Catholic faith, play games, eat food and enjoy live music, she said.
The coronavirus pandemic may have canceled the event in its full form, but attendees to Saturday’s curbside edition, the third since June, got an abbreviated form of the festival by ordering subs and cannolis, and entering into a cash raffle.
Cars lined up Pomeroy Street and turned into the church’s parking lot, where congregants of the church took orders and delivered food: sausage parmesan subs, meatball subs and cannolis.
Saturday’s event marked the third curbside edition the church has hosted this year, with the other two being on the last Saturdays of June and July.
From the start, the event has been a hit among attendees.
“We sold 240 subs in 45 minutes,” Dienhoffer said of the first event in June. “It was nuts.”
The popularity continued Saturday as cars lined up next to the church on Pomeroy Street at 9:30 a.m., a full hour and a half before the event’s scheduled start.
Jeri Petrella, of Cortland, said she came because she loves the festival.
“It’s great food and a good cause,” she said, although she was sad the traditional festival was canceled.
Paul Qiunlan, also of Cortland, shared Petrella’s reason for coming as he enjoyed the food.
“It’s going very rapidly today,” he said, noting the number of cars.
Quinlan said in years past, he has tried to attend the event when he could.
“It is what it is,” he said. “There’s nothing you can do about it and that was the correct decision to make. I’m not happy about it but you can’t do anything else.”
He said he hopes the event can return to normal next year.
While next year’s event is still a year away, Diehoffer said she always has it in the back of her mind, with planning beginning in January.
Dienhoffer also said that Saturday’s event served as a good way to see other parishioners during the pandemic.
“I get to see a lot of faces I haven’t seen since February when I was last in church,” she said. “It’s nice to not just see the same people all the time.”
The church plans its last curbside edition of the festival Sept. 26 — the last Saturday of September.