NEW BRITAIN - Before itâ€™s official start time at 6 p.m., cars started to line the streets while hundreds of people made their way to the Holy Cross Bazaar.
The carnival, now in its 63rd year, kicked off Thursday night and will be going on Friday from 6 to 11 p.m. and Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m.
The event is held in the parking lot of the old St. John Paul II School at 221 Farmington Ave., which is directly across from the Holy Cross Church. Both admission and parking are free.
Elizabeth Lagosz, of Southington, came to the bazaar for the first time this year with her daughter and husband.
â€śI came out for the little one to see the other kids, and go on the rides now that sheâ€™s 2 years old,â€ť she said.
Guests can expect rides, live music, raffles, games and plenty of food options.
Parishioners from the church make all the Polish food including kielbasa, golumbki, pierogi and potato pancakes.
Paul Korzynski, general chairman of the bazaar and a lifelong parishioner of the church, said the potato pancakes are the most popular item on the premises and always sell out.
â€ś(We) start preparing the food on Monday,â€ť he said.
Classic carnival favorites like cotton candy, candy apples and kettle corn are also available.
New this year to the raffle is a cash grand price of $2,500. In previous years the prize was a flat-screen TV.
Korzynski thinks the cash prize will be â€śa lot nicer for peopleâ€ť because â€śyou can spend it any way you want,â€ť he said.
Second place will get $1,000, third place, $500, fourth place, $250 and fifth place, $100. Raffle tickets can be purchased up until the drawing at 10 p.m. on Saturday for $5.
The grand prize for the car raffle is a 2017 BMW 320i xDrive sedan, retailed at $35,000. Only 350 tickets will be sold for $200 each.
Gabby Paciotti and Jean Myska, members of the Our Ladyâ€™s Guild, have been volunteering at the bazaar for a number of years - Paciotti for two and Myska for 50. They said itâ€™s a great place to bring people in the community together.
That sense of community and togetherness was evident at the carnival as many people smiled and waved to each other while families volunteered together.
About 2,500 to 3,000 people are expected to attend the bazaar. Proceeds from the event will benefit the church.