CARTHAGE, Mo. — We’re now barely 24 hours away from the return of an annual event that more than doubles the size of Carthage. And while events haven’t started yet — all the signs are there.

Marian Days is just hours away from starting, the first time since 2019 due to COVID shutdowns. But there’s a lot that has to happen to get ready for the kickoff on Thursday. And the Fathers of the Congregation of the Mother of the Redeemer will take all the help they can get.

“All 100% volunteer, and we enjoy our time. We are honored to be volunteers in helping out today,” said Vu Dinh, Michigan Volunteer.

This group of volunteers from Michigan is working on tents today.

“These big tents are for the church; usually the church have to get a place and then we help them put it up for the elderly. And I think they will be, the bus will bring them here and they’ll be unloaded sometime tomorrow,” added Tee Nguyen, Michigan Volunteer.

“We came here early and I will volunteer, help the church out, and I help people I put out a tent. I’ve set up a tent and tomorrow tonight and tomorrow morning, a charter bus rolls in. And we help them carry all the luggage and move to their tent,” said Dinh

It’s just one step in the transformation that turns the 28-acre seminary campus into one of the biggest spots in the Four States.

In 2019, estimates put attendance at 60 to 80,000 people. So, you’ll see a lot of scooters to get around the event, a good way to travel through crowds… and also a longtime tradition.

“That’s how we can drive back in Vietnam, with a scooter and even now a days the majority of people are going around from time to time to places, they go by the little scooter,” said Nguyen.

Marian Days started back in 1978, a gathering that included just 1,500 Vietnamese Catholics, many refugees from the Vietnam War. 2022 marks the 43rd year, counting its COVID break.

“I mean, we had two years off. So getting back into the groove and just contacting people who helped us in the years past, contacting the city. It has been kind of like we’ve been kind of starting all over again. But it’s good. It’s good. I mean, we welcome everybody back,” said Fr. Timothy Tran, CMR.