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Hundreds attend Festival on First event

From enchiladas to tacos to cold beverages, there was plenty to eat and drink at the festival.

Shouts of “Viva USA! Viva America! and Viva Mexico!” were chanted repeatedly by hundreds of attendees Sunday at the annual Festival on First on the campus of Marshalltown’s St. Mary Church.

The merger of three Marshalltown area Roman Catholic parishes earlier this year set the stage for the large turnout sponsored by St. Francis of Assistance Church.

Joining to become St. Francis of Assisi were Immaculate Conception in Haverhill, St. Mary of Marshalltown and St. Henry of Marshalltown.

The crowd and tents filled up the large yard across the street from the iconic church with several trees providing much appreciated shade.

Event coordinator Sister Christine Feagan said earlier this week the festivities were an open invitation for the public to come together to enjoy food, fun, faith and music.

T-R photos by Mike Donahey Rev. Michael McAndrew, left, and Rev. Alan Dietzenbach bless attendees at the Festival on First event Sunday on the St. Mary Church campus. Previously, Dietzenbach blessed the iconic Celtic cross on the recently rebuilt St. Mary’s church steeple.

Attendee Roger Polt of Marshalltown, joined by spouse Lois, was busy taking photos of the busy stage activities. He said he was thrilled to see the large crowd.

“We were truly blessed with nice weather,” Polt said. “And I am looking forward to seeing the Celtic cross and newly refurbished steeple.”

Kids were kept busy with the always-popular bouncy house, “Hula Darts,” races and a fish pond.

There was plenty of fresh food, representing dishes from Central America and Mexico, ranging from tamales to pupas to quesadillas.

Dairy Queen blizzards were a big hit as well, along with cakes, bars, cookies, fresh fruit cups and horchata.

Sunday’s afternoon sun seemingly lit up the metal covering on the St. Mary Catholic Church steeple. The recently installed Celtic cross is a tribute to the church’s Irish origins.

An event highlight was Rev. Alan Dietzenbach blessing the newly installed Celtic Cross atop St. Mary’s. The Celtic design honored the church’s Irish heritage when founded 150 years ago, and originally called Immaculate Conception. Later, the name was changed to St. Mary.

Raffle prizes included household items, toys, small appliances and gift cards donated by local businesses.

There were three instant raffles.

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Contact Mike Donahey at

641-753-6611 or

mdonahey@timesrepublican.com