GRANITE CITY — St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, 2300 Pontoon Road, will host a fun-filled three-day weekend June 6-8, with all ages welcome.
Dennis Riggs, chairman of the St. Elizabeth Catholic Church Family Days picnic, has been a member of the parish his entire life and is celebrating his silver anniversary as chairman.
“I enjoy it. It keeps me going. I have about 36 chairmen working with me, and they are a reason that keeps me coming back,” Riggs said.
The annual picnic, run entirely by St. Elizabeth’s members, is the weekend before Father’s Day.
Riggs said he takes particular pride in the picnic’s homemade lemonade.
“Sh-Boom, a show band out of St. Louis, and their leader, Brad James, have said that we have the best homemade lemonade of any picnic in the St. Louis area,” he said.
A lot goes into their homemade lemonade — unlike other picnics, St. Elizabeth’s takes the time to make it by hand.
“We buy over 50 cases of lemons. We cut them all by hand, we squeeze them, shake them and make it all from scratch,” he said. “We want to make sure our customers get the best quality out there.”
Riggs said there will be many tournaments. Starting at noon (registration at 11:30 a.m.), Saturday and Sunday, there will be a 32-team double elimination washers tournament; Saturday and Sunday, at 6 p.m. (registration at 5:30 p.m.), a 24-team double elimination 301 Dart Tournament; 8 a.m. (registration at 7:30 a.m.) Saturday, a Royal 5k run; and at noon (registration at 11:30 a.m.) Saturday and Sunday, an inaugural elimination mud volleyball tournament.
“We actually dig a pit in the ground and put water in it,” he said.
“Something that I’m really proud of that we are doing now is our Granite City’s Got Talent Show,” he said. “This is our second year doing it.”
The show features any kind of talent, he said.
“It’s kind of a take-off on America’s Got Talent,” Riggs said.
There will be prizes given for first, second and third place. For first place, there will be a prize of $300; second place will be $200 and third place will be $100.
No entry fee is required.
In addition to the talent show, there will be entertainment, including show bands each night. From 7 p.m. until midnight Friday, Good Time Oldies (GTO) will perform; from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday, Sounds of Rob Hogan will perform and from 7 p.m. until midnight, Butch Wax and the Hollywoods will perform.
On Sunday from noon until 5 p.m., the Sounds of Scott and Michele Smith will perform, and from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m., the Well Hungarians will perform.
But that’s not all — in addition to live entertainment, Riggs said they wanted to find a way for families to have a good time, but not spend a lot of money, so on Family Day Sunday, from noon until 4 p.m., there will be a balloon artist and caricaturist doing artwork for free.
“There will also be a stilt walker, a mime and we will have Cookie Monster and Elmo during that time, too,” he said.
To make Family Days even more eventful, Riggs said from noon until 4 p.m., first responders will be at picnic, including the Mitchell Volunteer Fire Department, Long Lake Volunteer Fire Department, Granite City fire and police departments, Madison Volunteer Fire Department, Illinois State Police, Madison County Sheriff’s Department, Pontoon Beach Police and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources – who will all have exhibits and vehicles for the children.
To make the weekend more memorable and fun — and less expensive — picnic organizers came up with the idea to help give back to the community with the carnival.
“We were trying to figure out how the families can still have fun and not spend a whole lot, Riggs said. “We wanted to give back to the community, so we decided to roll back the food prices like it was in 1993.”
Hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, french fries, corndogs and soda will only cost $1 from noon until 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Riggs said they needed to do more to help give back to the community. Normally, the wrist bands for rides are $65 at pre-sale and $75 at the picnic, but he said they will have a Saturday and Sunday matinee from noon until 3 p.m., when wrist bands will be $20.
“For those three hours, you get to ride all the rides you want for only $20,” he said.
Special dinners include: a stuffed cabbage roll dinner (golumpki) from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. Saturday in the church’s cafeteria; an all-you-can-eat broasted chicken dinner from noon until 6 p.m. Sunday.
Outside, Riggs said there will be all kinds of food including blooming onions, fried walleye, Mexican funnel cakes, cheesecake dipped in chocolate on a stick; and fresh bananas and strawberries dipped in chocolate on a stick.
“We also will have bingo every night in the cafeteria starting at 6 p.m., Friday through Sunday, and a game called ‘I Dood It,’” he said.
To sign up for the talent show or register for the tournament contest, stop by the parish’s office, call the office at (618) 877-3300 ext. 4 or visit the website, www.stegranitecity.org, print the form and fill it out.
Proceeds go directly to St. Elizabeth’s Church and School.
Family Days picnic and carnival hours are from 4 p.m. until midnight on Friday; noon until midnight on Saturday; and noon until 10 p.m. Sunday.