BY PAULA NEUMAN
The very first festival of the season in — the City of Festivals — is the Spring Fling, now in its 15th year, and organizers say it’s going to be better than ever.
\The Spring Fling Festival of St. Vincent Pallotti Parish — a merging of Wyandotte’s St. Joseph’s and St. Patrick’s churches and the former St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church — is set from 5 p.m. to midnight Friday May 8 and from noon to midnight Saturday May 9 at Yack Arena, 3131 Third Street. Parking is plentiful and free of charge.
“Be sure to mark your calendar,” said festival Chairman Rick Malechuk, who’s been in charge of the event since its more humble origins as a tent festival for St. Joseph’s more than 30 years ago.
“My wife says I’m nuts and I am,” he said. “I start in September getting ready for it.”
Every year, Malechuk and other hard-working parishioners try to make the already successful Spring Fling even better. The food, the music and the Kid’s Zone have all been tweaked for the 2020 festival.
“This year, because we’re growing so well, we’ve pulled Izbicki’s Catering into our food area,” he said. “And by changing our floor plan, food serving will be at least five times faster.”
The food — always a popular part of the festival — will include the favorite stuffed cabbage and pork chop combo plate, but much more will be available for discerning diners.
Firehouse Pub & Grill of Wyandotte is providing triple cheese mac and cheese and pulled pork. My Place Bar & Grill of Wyandotte is providing chicken fingers. Srodek’s of Hamtramck is providing pierogi, potato pancakes and kielbasa. And from Hungarian Rhapsody Restaurant of Southgate, diners can feast on chicken paprikash and dumplings.
Kid-friendly mainstays, including hot dogs, chili dogs, French fries and chili fries, will be available, too. A separate snack booth run by parishioners will offer those, as well as popcorn, soft drinks, walking tacos, hot pretzels, nachos, cotton candy and more.
McCaffery’s Bar of Lincoln Park, a generous sponsor of the fundraising festival, will offer loaded baked potato soup, but also is handling a new three-section bar for adult beverages.
“We’re calling it the mega bar,” Malehcuk said. “We’ll have two beer trailers and a mixed drink section with frozen drinks such as strawberry daiquiris. They’re professional bartenders.”
The parish also has added a coupon for $1 off any beverage — hard or soft —from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday to its festival advertising. Check this news magazine for a coupon.
The Spring Fling’s service changes this year mean festival goers won’t have to wait long for food and beverages, and also mean more fun for children and music lovers.
“Consolidating our bars to one wall opened up more space for the kids, and for the customers sitting and watching the music,” Malechuk said.
The festival’s Kid Zone offering all sorts of games, rides and entertainment is a full third of the arena space, he said. And it’s all inside, so weather won’t be a factor.
“There will be face painting, and Detroit sports team mascots will make an appearance on Saturday afternoon,” Malechuk said. “This a great picture-taking opportunity. The kids love this family cost-friendly area.
To make it even more cost-friendly, parents can buy 10 ride tickets and get five more for free on Saturday, he said.
Another Spring Fling big draw is the live bands that perform, and Malechuk is excited about what’s on tap this year. Your Generation In Concert will play both nights starting at 8 p.m.
“Your Generation is not just a band; they are a multimedia show,” he said. “Featuring five decades of pop, rock, dance and R&B hits, this eight-piece band is the world’s finest tribute show and will be introducing some new originals for one of the first times in public during the first set Saturday night. You need to be there! We’re lucky we’ve had them 13 of the 15 years of the festival. They just like coming to our event.”
Popular local band Wisteria will perform at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
“They will begin with a mix including Irish music and then a fantastic set of classic rock,” Malechuk said.
At 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Michigan Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Benny & the Jets will entertain, and Benny plans special guest songs with Your Generation in Concert and The Phoenix Theory, a band that will take the festival stage at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Malechuk said he is delighted to have added The Phoenix Theory to the Spring Fling lineup.
“We are so excited, as these guys are new for us this year, and we’re so fortunate to have them,” he said. “The Phoenix Theory is one of Detroit’s most sought-after cover bands, and they take listeners to new heights of musical entertainment by performing tightly rehearsed renditions of your favorite classic rock and dance favorites from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and today.”
The festival also features a bake sale; a room full of books, CDs and DVDs for sale; and raffles galore.
“Our Grand Raffle has a first prize of $10,000 and an additional $3,000 in prizes,” Malechuk said.
The Prizes Aplenty raffle features all sorts of prizes to win, including a lawnmower, barbecue grill, bicycle, Detroit Tigers tickets and more. Dozens of themed prize baskets also will be raffled. And hourly 50-50 drawings will take place throughout the festival.
Money raised from the Spring Fling goes to fund a number of parish expenses, such as new roofs and windows, and also for St. Vincent Pallotti’s many charitable endeavors, Malechuk said.
“We’ve gotten awards for being one of the most generous churches in southeast Michigan,” he said. “We help support schools, Christ Net, Penrickton Center for Blind Children, the Salvation Army, missions in Africa and a lot more.”