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St. Philip’s fair marks 40th year

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Carmen White and Dick Dubois, who has headed up the effort since the fair started 40 years ago, are among the many wreath makers for St. Phillip’s Church’s annual Christmas by the Lake (photo by Debbie Hite).

“Christmas by the Lake,” the annual Christmas fair presented by St. Philip’s Church of Auburn, will hold its 40th anniversary event this year on Saturday, November 22, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the parish center, located on Rt. 4 across from Lake Auburn.

The event will include all the regular features that have made the fair so popular over the years, including greens and wreaths, knits, quilted items, homemade candies and preserves, woodcrafts, jewelry, hidden treasures, holiday crafts, baked goods, and baked beans available to eat in or take out. Extra attention has been given this year to the lunch counter, available seating and theme baskets, with many in the $15 to $25 range. Any leftover items will be available for extended shopping on Sunday, November 23, from 10 a.m. to noon.

There will be a children’s activity room and a silent auction room with many choice items to attract the interest of bidders, including a nice selection of dolls and a Dept. 56 first edition Seasons Bay village scene. Also, renowned wildlife artist and St. Philip’s parishioner David Footer has donated a beautiful fish painted on a wood panel.

At the end of the day on Saturday, there will be a raffle drawing for three cash prizes of $500 each. Tickets for the raffle are $1 each or $5 per book and will be available at the door. You need not be present to win. As always, the fair features only the talents of its parishioners and friends; there are no outside vendors and no tables are rented out.

The first Christmas fair at St. Philip’s was organized under the direction of Dot (Dorothy) Violette, who has since chaired nine fairs, co-chaired at least two, and remains involved to this day. Other early event organizers, many of whom are also still involved, included Terry Bonney, Jeannette Boutin, Gert Cantwell, Irene Coady, Tony (Antoinette) Darling, Tjerk and Johanna DeHaan, Andy and Pat Deshaies, Dick and Elaine Dubois, Pauline Dubois, Giselle Gagnon, Ann Hanson, Grace Hendrix, Kay Kincaid, Jackie Laplante, Rose Lapointe, Vivan Mancine, Rachel Morin, Roger and Joyce St. Pierre, Frances Theberge and Terry Willard.

St. Philip’s Church came into being in 1968, when parishioners in some areas of Auburn, formerly served by St. Joseph’s and Sacred Heart churches, were designated by the Diocese to form the new church. The community initially met in a storefront on Summer Street in Auburn, and then at Park Avenue United Methodist Church, until the contemporary Vatican II-style worship center was dedicated on August 29, 1971.

Several years later, the Parish Council, of which Dot Violette was a member, determined that a major annual fundraiser was needed to help pay down the mortgage. Fr. Louis Berube, the pastor at that time, offered to put up the seed money to get the project underway. He saw the event as an opportunity to help the “blended family” of the new parish get better acquainted and form a stronger faith community.

Now, forty years later, “Christmas by the Lake” has grown to involve close to 200 people, parishioners as well as friends in the community, including a core group who work year-round planning, designing, collecting, crafting, sewing, knitting, and painting. The church’s debt, which had expanded with the construction of an education wing and parish center in 1989, was finally paid off in 2012, much to the satisfaction of those early leaders who prayed they’d live to see the day.

The fair continues, however, with recent proceeds going toward replacing the original roof, carpeting and heating system of the church and to support the Deacon’s poor fund. While still a significant fundraiser, the fair also remains a community-building activity and an opportunity for fair participants to welcome those who visit the event.

Now part of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, St. Philip’s Church is wheelchair accessible and has plenty of parking. For more information about the event, call 782-8096.

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