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Remember Mardi Gras?
Jan. 20, 2014

By Starrla Cray
Staff Writer

WINSTED, MN – There won’t be any live monkeys at this year’s Holy Trinity Parish & School’s Family Fun Fest, but as some may recall, that wasn’t always the case.

About 50 years ago, the Fun Fest was known as Mardi Gras, and it took place on the third floor of the old high school.

“I was in elementary school in the early 1970s, and I remember the Mardi Gras being a ‘big deal,’” said Holy Trinity campus minister Elaine Kahle. 

It began as a fundraiser for the school’s band program, and was organized by the mothers of the band students – including Sylvia Artmann.

“I had three children in school,” Artmann said, adding that her oldest (who is now 65 years old) had just joined band at the time.

Monkeys, cakes, jail, and blackjack
Artmann, now 89, has fond memories of the event’s early days.

“There was a boy who had a monkey – a real monkey,” she said. “You could pay a certain amount to hold the monkey.”

Artmann added that the boy’s pet ended up biting a student, though, and “that was the end of that.”

Another popular attraction was the cake walk.

“The mothers made cakes, and people would spin a wheel. If your number came up, you won a cake,” Artmann explained.

Adults and older students also enjoyed blackjack, Chuck-O-Luck, and wind-up horse races. When charitable gambling rules went into effect, however, gambling was no longer part of the event.

Other forms of entertainment were introduced as time went on, including a spook house and a “jail.”

“For the jail, people can pay one ticket to have someone ‘arrested’ and locked up in jail, and then somebody else has to spend another ticket to get them out of jail,” Kahle noted. “The elementary kids have had a blast putting their friends, parents, teachers, or even their priest in jail.”

Some years ago, the name of the Mardi Gras was changed to Family Fun Fest. Kahle said she thinks the switch was most likely due to a change in the event’s timing.

“We no longer had it coincide with Lent,” Kahle noted. “Now, it is an event to kick off our Catholic Schools Week.”

Don’t miss it
This year, National Catholic Schools Week takes place Jan. 26-Feb. 1, and the Family Fun Fest will take place from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26.

The day starts with coffee, rolls, and conversation in the church basement from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Then, lunch (hot dogs and sloppy joes) will be served in the cafeteria from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., about 20 games will be set up in the gym, with an assortment of prizes. A few new games include Angry Birds, Sunken Treasures, Shuffleboard, What Does the Fox Say?, and Dance Revolution.

Tickets are 50 cents each, 12 for $5, or 25 for $10.

For more information, contact Kahle at (320) 485-5625.

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