Kensington church festival combines history, fun and culinary delight

Published on Tuesday, 20 June 2017 21:56
Written by Charles Paullin

Staff Writer

BERLIN - On the brink of a mini heat wave throughout the state, individuals met at the Kensington Congregational Church recently for something of a different kind of heat: A hot buttered lobster roll.

The church, located at 312 Percival Road, held its fourth annual festival on the hill on its grounds, featuring the lobster rolls.

“How can you not have one?” said James Carlson of Carlson Funeral Home, a parishioner who was in attendance with his wife and two children.

In addition to the popular food items, which also included brisket and pork that sold out - according to Rev. Olivia Robinson - the festival hosted several vendors and music performances throughout the day.

“Great weather,” said Jill Marsh of Good Cause Gifts, with Mike Baranowski, citing last year’s rain.

“It’s fantastic. The lobster, the sunshine, good people. Everyone is really friendly,” said Traci Carey, of Berlin, who was jamming to the vocals and acoustic guitar playing of John Hollywood.

Two bounce houses, and balloon animals and face painting courtesy of Berlin High School’s Upbeat Club, were also available for children.

Tours of the church’s historic meeting house built in 1774; the oldest permanent Civil War monument in the United States, built in 1863; and a 33-star flag made in 1863 by women of the church, were given to about 45 people, explained Robinson.

“It looks like an octopus” said Casey Clinch, 8, of his balloon animal while sporting a tiger face painting. Casey was at the festival with his grandfather.

Prior to the festival, the second annual lobster loop 5k ran began the day in the morning, with over 120 participants. Mike Parzych, of the male 13- to 18-year-old age group, and Aimee Sorbo, of the female 30- to 39-year-old age group, took the top two spots for male a female, respectively, with times of 18:41.09 and 23:39.76, respectively.

“I’ve always said we should run it the opposite and give you the easy part at the end, but it’s more a challenge this way and I enjoy it,” said Deb Martin, 65, from town, who ran at last year’s inaugural run and was training for other races. “I like that it’s local.”

The proceeds from the day went toward mission trips for the youths, in which kids will complete household manual labor projects like building a deck or repairing a roof; and the New Britain Salvation Army’s program, “Out of the Cold,” which feeds the needy during the colder months of winter.

Parishioners and festival vendors - of woodworking products - Greg Benoite, who was part of the Ringtones male a capella group that performed, wife Karen and son Shaun have gone on the trips before and said they are great lessons for the kids.

“The kids learn how to work together with other people,” said Greg Benoite, who explained the smaller sized group of 12 from Berlin will be divided up among parishes from other parts of the country, which can bring anywhere up to 50 members. “It’s faith based,” he added. This year’s group went to Erie, Pennsylvania, for a week.

In total about 900 people attended the festival, according to Robinson. With the church in the early stages of renovating their parish hall, having just received $1.5 million in pledges for the project, Robinson said next year’s event may have to be scaled back as construction could be going on around the same time as the festival.

“The food was great, the people were great,” said Robinson. “I think it was a successful event.”

Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or cpaullin@central

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin, Business, New Britain on Tuesday, 20 June 2017 21:56. Updated: Tuesday, 20 June 2017 21:59.