St. Ann Catholic Parish in Coppell has hosted a carnival to provide safe, family fun for the entire local community since 1993. The plan was to grow an event that would serve the entire community rather than a festival directed mainly at parishioners. The first carnival was organized by some of the original ministries and organizations at St. Ann including the Men’s Club, Women’s Fellowship, Knights of Columbus, Life Teen, and Empty Nesters.
The first carnival had only three tents, 10 to 12 members of the organizing committee, and about 700 volunteers on the actual weekend in October, 1993. Now, the committee is approximately 35 people who begin working shortly after the previous year’s carnival. It requires about 1700 volunteer shifts to operate the three day event in addition to the employees of Talley Amusements who operate the midway rides.
The same family-owned business has provided midway rides every year. Originally the relationship was established through the late Ms. Helen Shaffer, a family friend of our late Msgr. Killian Broderick. Despite the passing of the original friends, the Shaffer family has continued to provide reliable service every year with sensitivity to our need to keep the atmosphere family-friendly.
Due to cold weather, the carnival was moved from October to early September. It has remained on the weekend after Labor Day ever since it was moved to September.
From 1993 to 1999, the carnival was held on the grass adjacent to Samuel Boulevard where the paved courtyard and fountain now stand; but in 1997, the carnival almost did not happen because it was thought that groundbreaking would finally occur on the permanent church facilities. However, the City of Coppell requested that St. Ann host the event which had already become a community favorite. An alternate site was offered by the city in order to facilitate the event; but construction was delayed and St. Ann held the carnival as usual. When the major construction did begin in 2000, St. Ann moved the carnival to the current location in the paved parking lot adjacent to Sandy Lake Road. Despite the final construction of the new church buildings in 2001, the carnival went on as scheduled.
Over the years, various activities have been added to the growth of the carnival weekend. The first year for bingo was 1994. The raffle was added in 1995. The grand prize for the raffle has become the “hot” car of the year including the new Super Beatle, the PT Cruiser, the Mini Cooper, and most recently two different hybrid sedans. A silent auction was added to the three day event and in 2003, record profits were seen due, in part, to an experiment with a live auction. Free live entertainment has been a carnival favorite in recent years with performers ranging from karate and tumbling to Egyptian and Latin dancers. Musicians have included Coppell’s own country recording artists Lantana and St. Ann’s own Curtis Stephan.
Every year the carnival donates funds to many local groups including the Coppell Police and Fire Departments, Boys Scouts of America, Catholic Charities, and some less fortunate parishes in the metro area. In the St. Ann faith community, the carnival has provided funds for the Mexico Mission trip and for scholarships from the Knights of Columbus. Some purchases that were funded in large part by the carnival were the new bells for the church, the courtyard fountain, the retabla behind the altar in the large chapel, and the children’s prayer garden on the east side of the main church. Funds have also been provided for church maintenance and landscaping and other general needs of the parish community.
Being able to fund worthy causes in the community is a wonderful bonus from the carnival weekend. However, the main focus has always been to provide a safe, family-friendly event that all of Coppell and the surrounding communities can enjoy. We hope to always provide a schedule of free entertainment as a part of this event along with reasonable prices for food and beverages so that there will be something to fit everyone’s budget.
Thank you to everyone who has ever volunteered to work the carnival. Thank you to everyone who has come out and helped to make this one of the favorite annual events in Coppell, Texas.