On a clear, bright August day, the stalls of the Blue Hill Fairgrounds filled as the St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church held its annual fair.
The 23rd annual edition of the fair took place on Saturday, August 10. The event, which this year partnered with Child and Family Opportunities of Ellsworth, included such attractions as the “Junque for Jesus” sale, a 5,000 book used book sale, a tool sale, the “Treasure Chest” fine goods area, freshly prepared food, live music, and a children’s play area.
Organizer Mary Hartley said that by the time the fair began at 9 a.m. there was already a substantial group of people waiting at the gate.
The “Junque for Jesus” section of the fair was a diverse assembly of donated items carefully priced to be resold. Hartley said that for this year’s fair there had been 20 truckloads of donated items for this particular booth, and that it had taken about 20 people three days to price each item.
A large book sale occupied another area of the fair. Over 5,000 titles, organized into specific genres, filled the full length of one long fair stall. Hartley mentioned that two volunteers, Peter and Donny Smith, work year round to prepare this particular event.
She said they would begin gathering books again the very next day after the fair.
The “Treasure Chest” and “Perfect Gift” booths also had unique offerings.
The “Treasure Chest” contained finer goods, including paintings, etchings, gift certificates to local businesses, and donated services. Hartley related that the “Treasure Chest” is a particularly profitable event for the fair.
“Perfect Gift” was a booth set up selling items that Hartley said were well served to become gifts to others.
Booths were also set up selling freshly prepared food, including baked goods, grilled items, strawberry shortcakes, and beverages.
Live music was played through the day, featuring performances from George Lirakis, Scott Grindle, and Gerald Wheeler.
“We want to make it accessible to the community,” Hartley said of the annual event.
The fair has evolved and grown greatly since its inception 23 years ago. Hartley conveyed that in its first year, it had only two tables. Today, the fair has expanded to 173 different tables.
As it has increased in size over the years, the event has had to find increasingly spacious venues to accommodate it. In past years, it has been hosted at the American Legion Hall, St. Francis Church, and the Blue Hill Consolidated School before moving to its current location at the Blue Hill Fairgrounds, where it has remained for the past decade.
The space at the Blue Hill fairgrounds is currently donated to the St. Francis fair.
Hartley noted that over 170 people volunteer for the various aspects of the event, and that not all of them are church parishioners. The fair’s partner organization also sent 16 volunteers.
Each year, the fair works with an area organization as a partner and donates a percentage of the fair proceeds to that organization. This year’s partner was Child and Family Opportunities in Ellsworth, which is the parent organization to Head Start pre-schools.
Hartley said the partner organization is chosen partly on the basis of the service that it provides to the Blue Hill Peninsula. In past years, fair partners have been Nichols Day Camp and Peninsula Ambulance Corps.