The St. Agnes Carnival is the second largest Catholic picnic in town. | Courtesy of St. Agnes

The St. Agnes Carnival is the annual fundraiser for the Highlands’ St. Agnes Parish, and it’s one of the best and biggest church picnics in town — save for that little one in August that goes by the name of St. Joe’s.

It takes about 1,000 volunteers to keep the beer flowing, the rides running and the blackjack tables turning over hour to hour. And this year’s fest will be even bigger than ever, as it takes over the church grounds on Friday and Saturday, July 20-21.

Along with the usual suspects of food and beer vendors, carnival rides, gambling tables and a cake walk, the event features two nights of free live music.

Playing Friday night are RUOK? (5:30 p.m.), the venerable Nervous Melvin & The Mistakes (8 p.m.) and Bleu Phonque with Johnny Edwards (10:30 p.m.). And on Saturday, it’s The Vinyl Kings (5 p.m.), Johnny Doughnut Experience (7:30 p.m.) and Doc Rock & The Test Tubes (10 p.m.).

St. Agnes features many rides. | Courtesy of St. Agnes

And if you want something more than a funnel cake or corn dog, there are special dinners each night that’ll feature pulled pork on Friday and grilled barbecue chicken breast on Saturday, along with many side dishes.

The annual festival attracts more than 10,000 people each year and raises more than $100,000, which is divided between local charities and funding the operating budget for the church and school.

Things actually get started on Wednesday, July 18, with a parade at 6:30 p.m. And on Thursday, July 19, it’s discounted ride night for the kids from 6-10 p.m. The St. Agnes Carnival will then take place on Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m.-12:30 a.m.

Admission is free. The St. Agnes Parish is located at 1920 Newburg Road.

A little background — St. Agnes traces its roots to the Newburg property back to 1873, when Sisters of Mercy began an academy for girls, called Mount St. Mary. After that closed in 1879, Bishop McCloskey reopened the academy under the title of Mt. St. Agnes.

Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville. She's known around town as the Bar Belle and updates her blog ( daily. She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."


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