EVERETT – Back in the 1970s, the school at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Everett was facing dire financial straits.
So a group of parents and volunteers borrowed an idea from St. Joseph Parish in Vancouver — a fundraising community festival to keep the school afloat.
That first Everett Sausage Festival in the fall of 1976 had just two or three booths but raised about $10,000, said Frauna Hoglund, a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help who has served on the festival board with her husband, Erv.
Now the family-oriented festival nets as much as $100,000 a year.
“We grew it every year,” expanding the music, food and carnival offerings, but always offering bingo, Hoglund said.
“No Catholic school would be a Catholic school without bingo,” said Hoglund, who is still a member of the Sausage Fest executive board. This year’s festival is Oct. 7-9.
In 2015, the festival raised about $95,000 — 6 percent of the annual revenue for what is now Immaculate Conception-Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, according to Principal Kathy Wartelle. The neighboring parish schools merged in 1987; today, IC-OLPH has nearly 250 students in preschool through eighth grade.
Over the years, the Sausage Fest has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. The money goes into the school’s general fund, helping pay for everything from salaries and maintenance to curriculum development. In 2015, a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) lab was added.
Sausage and sauerkraut are favorites during the Everett Sausage Fest. Photo: Courtesy Everett Sausage Fest/Facebook
When the festival began 40 years ago, it launched the tradition of using parishioner Sophie Schmidt’s recipe for sauerkraut: a combination of cabbage, cooked pork, caraway seeds, garlic powder and lemons. Schmidt passed away years ago, but volunteers still use her recipe. About a week before the festival, they spend two days cooking and canning the sauerkraut.
This year’s opening and closing ceremonies will honor the volunteers who have organized the festival through the years. They include Hoglund and her sister, Beverly Rochon, who were in charge of the festival’s traditional Bavarian dinner.
But the Sausage Fest isn’t living in the past. It continues growing and evolving, this year adding food booths operated by Hispanic and Vietnamese parishioners.
“We’re trying to branch out into all of the communities,” said Matt Henggeler, festival co-chair.
Music is always a big part of the Sausage Fest. This year’s offerings include Immaculate Conception School’s talent showcase, an Elvis tribute performer, Voces de Mexico and the band BOB, featuring Father Armando Guzman — a former parochial vicar at the Everett parishes and now pastor of Seattle’s Christ the King Parish.
As they plan the festival each year, one thing is uppermost in the organizers’ minds: “Our goal is to make sure the school is operating fine,” Henggeler said.
The Everett Sausage Fest has raised money for Catholic education since 1976. Photo: Courtesy Everett Sausage Fest/Facebook
Attend the Sausage Fest
The 40th Everett Sausage Festival is slated for Oct. 7-9 on the grounds of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, located at Everett Avenue and Cedar Street in Everett.
Besides food booths, carnival rides, games for kids and more than 30 arts and crafts vendors, the festival will include the traditional Bavarian Dinner Haus, a Bavarian beer garden and a wine bar.
Big-screen TVs will be installed in the beer garden so festivalgoers can watch the Huskies football game and other sporting events. The wine bar will feature selections from Spain, Argentina, France, Italy, California and Washington, all chosen by a local wine steward.
The festival opens at noon each day; closing time is midnight Friday and Saturday and 7 p.m. on Sunday. A free shuttle bus will run every 20 minutes, starting at 11 a.m. daily, from the south parking lot of the Everett Transit station, 3201 Smith Ave.