"50th Anniversary of the Irasburg Church Fair "

Irasburg Church Fair in Vermont

Over the past 50 years, the Irasburg Church Fair has grown from very humble beginnings to a rousing fun-filled day with activities for all ages.

The modest goal of the first fair in 1952 was to raise enough money to carpet the altar of the church. Since then, the proceeds from the fair have been used for a range of projects to maintain the historical church building.

The highlights of the first fair - an inviting spread of home baked foods, an entertaining auction, and a delicious end of the day supper - can still be enjoyed today. Within a few years people were coming from as fas away as California and Louisiana to enjoy the weaving exhibits, baby shows, square dancing, amateur hours, horseshoe pitching, plant sales, fiddler's contests and street parades. There were hobby shows displaying cherished collections of buttons, roosters, salt and pepper shakers and miniature horses. Many events were in the town hall which was attractively decorated with country flowers.

In 1959 the fair celebrated the 350th Anniversary of Samuel de Champlain's discovery of Vermont and the lake that carries his name. The whole community paricipated with an estimated crowd of 1500. They enjoyed games, pony rides, plant and parcel post booths, a sugar-on-snow supper and the largest street parade. The prize winning float driven by Pat Chicoine, J., was a historical reminder that for many years the Orleans county jail was in Irasburg. "Jennie the Mule" joined owner Clair Phillips in the parade each year from 1968-1975 to show off her hilarious outfits. In 1970, Clair's basset hound "Hannibal", also became part of the fashion show.

Every year the auction has drawn a good spirited crowd. Auctioneers have included Roy Phillips, Jack Lawson and "Gassy" Souliere. For the last seventeen years, Bob Lawson, with his most pleasing personality, has done a super job of encouraging the highest gid on a variety of both old and new items including antiques, cords of wood, truckloads of topsoil whatever appears before him.

Children have always been some of the most enthusiastic fair-goers! Over the years they have enjoyed decorated bicycle parades, pony rides, pet shows, recreational games and many, many scoops of homemade ice cream and maple sundaes.

The unique birdhouses, created by Gary and Deb Johnson and their helpers, have become a focal point of the fair. Customers arrive early to stand next to their favorite - which could be a Victorian cottage - waiting for the magic hour of 10:00 when they can complete their purchase.

By 1991, the fair emerged as a full-fledged community event. New colorful tents brightened the common. Vibrant pink ribbions adorned the tents, bandstand, and signs - anything standing still! All the helpers wore new pink aprons as they worked in teh food, craft and game booths. Muscial groups entertained during the day and into the evening. A juried art show was added... a variety of vendors lined th edges of the common to offer their wares... people patiently waited in line to buy tickets for the first annual raffle of an exquisite handmade quilt... fresh strawberries were ladled over homemade biscuits while the enticing aroma of barbecued chicken floated over the common... what a wonderful event this has become.

 

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