The smell of gorditas and enchiladas and the sounds of cumbias and norteñas fill the air as El Paso is in the middle of kermés season. 

Run by droves of volunteers, the annual bazaars are fundraisers for church buildings and operations and other needs the parishes might have – from new pews or altars to air conditioning or public address systems.

“From the bottom to top, they are community organized events in most parishes. It’s the people within the parish and from within the ministries that run the stands and put the whole event together,” said Fernando Ceniceros, director of communications at the Catholic Diocese of El Paso.

“It may sound cheesy, but it’s really a labor of love,” said Ceniceros, who grew up helping his parents run an elote stand at his church kermés. 

The bazaars used to be held in conjunction with each parish patron saint day, but are now generally held during the summer and fall.

“This is our first year back in full swing since the pandemic,” Ceniceros said. “Since the pandemic, a lot of parishes have learned that moving their kermés to the fall makes it a lot easier for people to attend the kermés because the weather is more cooperative.”

Attendees can eat a wide assortment of food, including elote, tacos, churros and raspas, or snow cones. Activities include fun games for kids, raffles, rides and jumping balloons.  Live music plays throughout the night and people dance the night away. One of the biggest highlights of a kermés is the loteria game and the dunking booth.

Here’s when area Catholic parishes are holding their bazaars, starting with the popular Fiesta de San Lorenzo this weekend. Hours vary by parish and day.