The annual Boar’s Head Festival is a massive undertaking. There are dozens of participants and crew, hundreds of guests, lots of rehearsals, and a very busy weekend. The guests come to see the show and, hopefully leave inspired. The participants come to perform and share the Good News. How does it all get put together? It takes dedication and leadership, and Catherine Garrison, the Boar’s Head Festival director took a little time to share her thoughts with us.
Catherine is a Nurse Practitioner at Einstein Healthcare in Center City, specializing in Endocrinology by day. She works 50 to 60 hours a week in her regular job but beyond that she directs the Boar’s Head Festival as a volunteer. A self-proclaimed night owl she says that, “a lot of my work is done at night when I grab my laptop and send out emails and make a few phone calls” but that is not the end of it. Starting around Halloween she regularly spends 3 or more hours at church every Sunday after worship services to work on casting, and costume fittings, and of course more emails. It is a big job, but one that she loves.
“It kind of runs itself in a lot of ways, and Carol’s (our music director) job, is way more difficult than mine. People come back year after year because they love it so much, so it’s making sure everything is set. Sometimes people have to stop participating for whatever reasons and we need to fill a role but really it’s just fun and full of great memories.”
We asked how she got involved in all of this and Catherine said, “I’ve been involved since 1995 when my kids were in the nursery school and Debbie Graham asked if the kids would want to be a part of the Festival and I stayed the whole weekend and I’ve been involved ever since because I just fell in love with it.” She continued, “I just remember fond memories from when my kids were young. Such fond memories of the whole weekend as a family, it was spiritual, we were together as a family, and we were together with our St. Peter’s family. It’s really just relaxing and some time together as families and community…It’s not something we can usually do – just slow down – and it’s a nice opportunity to just do that. Plus I love the Christmas season and anything you can do to extend the Christmas is definitely worth it! Mainly though I just enjoy watching the young families with the young kids spend time with each other because it was, and is, so meaningful to my family.”
The Boar’s Head Festival is a major undertaking for any congregation and its people, and the hope is that people walk away with something – some feeling, some inspiration, something that changes or moves them. We asked Catherine what she hopes people take away from the Boar’s Head Festival and she said, “I hope that they are fascinated by the pageantry and the movement but the last scene with the adoration with everyone with their arms up – it’s just so spiritual, so moving. I hope that the fellowship and that moment of adoration helps people remember that life isn’t just about work and paying the bills it’s about more – that moment with the adoration, if people can just take that moment with them for a little while, even for a day or a week – that scene says it all.”
The Boar’s Head Festival is an amazing event – full of music, pageantry, and joy – but it’s also a lot of work and we have a tremendous team of volunteers leading the way. As Catherine said, “that moment with the adoration, if people can just take that moment with them for a little while” then all the work is meaningful. That is what we work for and that is what we hope to share – that moment of the Good News of Jesus Christ when the bills and work and everything just fades away and we remember that we are the people of God, in this moment, in this day, in this year, in all things. If people can walk away with that moment then we have truly lived our call to share the life, love, and joy of Jesus Christ with others.
Thank you to Catherine Garrison for leading our Boar’s Head Festival efforts and to everyone who works so tirelessly to make sure that we, as the people of St. Peter’s, can share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others and hopefully share that “moment” that people can take with them. And in case you were worried, Catherine does take a week off work leading up to the Boar’s Head Festival and a day off after for what she calls her “Boar’s Head Coma”!