Holly Day Fair celebrates the season

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Union - posted Tue., Nov. 26, 2013
The kitchen crew of (left to right) Mary Evans, Rachel Rubino, Cheryl D'Amico, and Pam and Gary Trinque kept busy dishing up lunch. Photos by Annie Gentile.
The kitchen crew of (left to right) Mary Evans, Rachel Rubino, Cheryl D'Amico, and Pam and Gary Trinque kept busy dishing up lunch. Photos by Annie Gentile.

There are a number of theories about why the Congregational Church of Union’s Holly Day Fair gets bigger and better every year. Some may believe that word of mouth of the fun-for-the-whole-family event - now in its fifth year - has spread a little further both north and south. Others may credit the addition of Santa and Mrs. Claus and their elves in the second year of the event. Others may say it’s the homemade jams and jellies, the handmade Christmas gifts and ornaments, the assortment of items available at the vendor booths, the opportunity to enjoy a homemade luncheon, or the chance to buy a variety of cookies by the pound.

Heather Matthews, a church deaconess and coordinator of the annual fundraiser, however, has her own opinion, and it all centers around the incredible camaraderie of the people of the town of Union and how they all pull together to make things work for the small local church.

“Union is a family-oriented town. We have Old Home Day in the summer, where people who have moved away come back to visit, and we have firehouse chicken barbecues, but we haven’t had anything that brings people together in the winter,” said Matthews. For that reason, she said she started up the Holly Day Fair idea, and with the help of not only the church community, but the town as a whole, the event has grown and grown.

For example, Matthews said she gets year-round help from four community-minded women - Jane DeNault, Mary Cavar, Norma George and Shirley O’Malley - none of whom actually belong to the Congregational Church of Union. They meet once a month, usually at Matthews’ home, to make a variety of crafts that are sold at the fair. They also do quilting, sewing and painting on their own.

Additionally, while members of the church family make holiday baskets, Matthews also gets calls from townspeople offering to make a donation to the silent auction.

“Pam Trinque runs our café as part of a family affair. She’s a wonderful cook and well known for her amazing menus,” added Matthews. “The first year the café was half the size, but we found out quickly we had to expand the fencing to make room for additional seating.”
Besides the usual holiday fair type items, such as sprays of greenery and crafts galore, the Holly Day Fair also includes a few unique items - most notably “Tombola,” an English game of chance.

A transplant from England herself, Matthews said she introduced the game to the fair two years ago, but at first it was a hard sell. The game consists of a tumbling barrel filled with number tickets, and participants pay $5 for 10 chances. If any of the tickets pulled have a zero on the end, then you win a prize. The barrel is set beside a table covered with prizes of every variety that are tagged with corresponding numbers. “This year the game is doing really well and we had over 100 gifts on the table,” said Matthews. “Half the fun is finding out what you won,” she said.

While the fair has proven to be a much-needed fundraising event for the church, it is the fun and camaraderie amongst both the church community and the town of Union itself that makes the event so much more worthwhile, said Matthews. “We’ve been setting things up all day every day for a week. I’m exhausted!” she said. “But it’s the people that make it all worthwhile.”

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