By Celine Klosterman
WEST LIBERTY — A Festival Latino in West Liberty Sept. 12 raised $17,000 for St. Joseph Parish in the town, said Father Dennis Martin, the parish’s pastor.
He said funds raised may be used to update the carpet, paint, pews and other elements of the church’s interior.
Five teenage queen candidates raised $11,000 of the total. Joanna Palma, 14, a member of St. Joseph Parish, raised the most funds of the candidates — $5,185 — and received a crown and the title of queen for the coming year.
Runner-up Angela Solis, 14, raised $2,900.
Other queen candidates were Adriana Jacobo, Kathleen Cabrera and Lolita Perez. The candidates were chosen from teens who are celebrating their quinceañera, or 15th birthday, this year and accepted invitations to compete to be queen.
“I did it because I really wanted to help out the church,” Joanna said. She and supporters held raffles, sold blankets, decorations and food and solicited donations from family members to raise funds. “I didn’t expect to raise as much money as I did. I was shocked.”
She said she looks forward to volunteering at St. Joseph’s and helping organize events.
Angela, who also wanted to help the parish raise money, and her supporters held car washes and solicited donations since the beginning of summer. “It looked like fun,” she said of the opportunity to compete to be queen.
The festival also included music, dancing, food and children’s activities. Held annually, the event commemorates the Sept. 16 independence day of Mexico and the Sept. 15 independence day of some Central American countries.