Originally published in The Weekly Packet, August 14, 2014
Annual St. Francis Fair draws a crowd all day long
St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church held its annual fair and Junque for Jesus sale at the Blue Hill Fairgrounds on August 10. Per tradition, folks lined up at the gates before the fair opened, then poured in, in a mad dash for good deals.
by Tevlin Schuetz
On cue from an announcement over a loudspeaker, the gates were drawn open, and a crowd of over 70 people surged in—not quite running, but moving at the pace of an urgent speed walk.
The throng was eager to peruse table-loads of treasure at St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church’s annual fair and Junque for Jesus sale at the Blue Hill Fairgrounds on August 9.
Antiques, kitchen items, dishes, tools, small appliances, furniture, craft items, jewelry, other housewares, knick-knacks and books—tables of them—awaited.
The Junque for Jesus extravaganza, which is in its 24th year, has continued to grow since its humble beginnings on the church grounds years ago, a volunteer said.
Fair volunteer Tim Thomas predicted, “Half the town will be here,” as he surveyed the scene with fellow volunteers, Harry Bissell and Gene Grindle.
A horse-drawn hayride was a new attraction this year at the fair. Although it was intended primarily for kids, people of all ages enjoyed a lazy, bumpy ride around the grounds.
Food and refreshments were also on hand. A tantalizing display of baked goods stretched across a few tables, and purveyors of strawberry shortcake were strategically located to catch visitors as they entered and exited the fair.
The Gentlemen Grillers were in full swing, too, braving the heat as they labored over the grill, serving sausages, hot dogs and bratwurst, and a coffee cart was present as well to keep fairgoers’ energy up.
George Lirakis entertained the crowd with live music into the afternoon. He played folk classics and other songs, multitasking on vocals, guitar and occasional harmonica. He was joined by other musicians later in the day.
The Treasure Chest tent held a combination sale and silent auction. Fine furnishings included works of art, silver, china, furniture and more.
Organizer Susan Reddy remarked that the auction went “very, very well” this year, citing a painting donated by artist Jerry Rose, which sold for $800. A copper cauldron and a three-story, fully furnished dollhouse each sold for $250, Reddy said.
According to Reddy, the silent auction was streamlined this year so that people could fill in their names and contact info for bidding slots versus having to get bidding numbers ahead of time. Things went smoothly, she said.
According to the church’s website, a record number of tables were reserved this year at the fair.
After a time, people from the initial surge began to exit the grounds with shopping bags, boxes and other loot-filled containers, passing a steady trickle of new arrivals as they left.
St. Francis partnered with Child and Family Opportunities in Ellsworth again this year for the fair. In years past, fair partners have included Peninsula Ambulance Corps and Nichols Day Camps.