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Good Shepherd Hosts 33rd Festival

Live entertainment, children's rides, international food and beverages, and games all come to Good Shepherd Catholic Church, 8710 Mount Vernon Highway, on Labor Day, Monday Sept. 1. It's the church's 33rd Annual International Festival.

With a mission to raise funds for local organizations and citizens in need, the festival was initiated 33 years ago by the Women's Council of Good Shepherd. Although admission is free, tickets must be purchased for raffle items, activities, rides, plants and flowers, food, early admission to the "White Elephant Sale," and other items at some booths, according to festival organizers.

"This International Festival is a celebration that our parishioners share with each other and the community in which we live. It is an opportunity for everyone in our community to come together at the end of the summer to spend the day with each other," said Reverend Charles C. McCoart, Jr., pastor, Good Shepherd Catholic Church.

"This event is nearly 100 percent volunteer driven and that's what makes it a success every year. In addition to the fun and fellowship, it's a source of funding for charitable needs," Rev. McCoart said.

"The International Festival enables local charities to help those in need. Our goal is not only charitable fund raising, but also fellowship. Last year, the event attracted thousands of guests," said Lou Volchansky, Festival Co-chairman.

One of the big events each year is the "White Elephant Sale." The Plant Booth, Rose's Bakery and White Elephant sale purchases are by cash and carry only, according to Volchansky.

Early admission to the White Elephant event begins at noon and costs $5. After 12:30 p.m. general admission to the sale is free.

Past organizations receiving festival funds included Good Shepherd Emergency Assistance, Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services, United Community Ministries, Progreso Hispano, Inc., and Shepherd's Gate.

In addition to parking at the church, there is ample parking at near-by Mount Vernon High School, with shuttle service to the church starting at noon and ending at 6:30 p.m. All festival grounds and events are handicap accessible, according to organizers. There is also a first aid station on the grounds, according to church officials.

The 43 year-old Good Shepherd parish serves more than 3,000 families and 11,000 parishioners throughout Northern Virginia and the surrounding areas. For additional information about this event call 703-780-4055 or visit the Good Shepherd Catholic Church Web site at www.gs-cc.org.