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MercyFest promotes diversity in music, food

Updated: November 15, 2011 10:16AM

AURORA — With more rides than ever, expanded grounds and new entertainment, MercyFest gets bigger and better each year, said Joe Beltz, chairman of the annual event.

MercyFest is set for Friday through Sunday on the grounds of Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church on Eola Road.

Now in its ninth year, the free festival draws crowds from Aurora and surrounding towns.

On Friday, Larry Harris and Frank Lamphere will present their Rat Pack Jazz Tribute beginning at 8 p.m. in the church multi-purpose room, while the cover band Hi Infidelity takes the main stage in the outdoor tent.

On Saturday, the music starts with two area bands, Redline Audio at 1 p.m. and Prairie Surfers at 4 p.m. The entertainment lineup then takes on an Irish theme as the McNulty Irish dancers perform at 6:15 followed by The Dooley Brother with their mix of traditional Irish, American and contemporary music at 7 p.m.

On Sunday, MercyFiesta starts at 1:30 p.m. with performances by Ballet Folklorico and Mariachi Teca. A steak taco dinner will be available for purchase during the afternoon. At 4 p.m., Eddie Korosa Jr. and His Boys from Illinois will get everyone moving with their polka hits while the food tents offers a spaghetti dinner.

“We try to have something for everyone,” said Colleen Caballes, marketing chairman. “There are rides and games for all ages, the No Mercy 5 K Race on Saturday morning, The Shops at MercyFest on Saturday, a basket auction, A Texas Hold’em Tournament, bake sales every day...”

Funds raised at the event support ministries of the church.

Beltz said planning for MercyFest began in January with a core group of about 15. The running of the event requires about 400 volunteers who come from the church’s 14,000 members.

“MercyFest is more than a way to raise funds,” said church pastor Rev. Hugh Fuller. “It is a way to bring the community together within the parish and from the outside.

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