Summer in the Cranberry Isles is busy, busy, busy. Since the middle of July, on Great Cranberry Island, the activities have included: a Garden Party and Art Auction to benefit the Great Cranberry Island Historical Society, a 50K “uber-marathon” with runners from all over the country, an Evening of Music and Poetry, potluck suppers to raise funds for the Fire Department, the “Wimbleberry” Tennis Tournament, the Sandberg-Lobkowicz family reunion, a CPR course, impromptu dinner parties complete with singing and chamber music, and of course, the 107th annual Ladies Aid Fair. The fair is an all day celebration that requires months and months of planning, and dedicated volunteers who make it a wonderful fund raising event.
In one month on Islesford there has been: a book signing by Trevor Corson for his new book, “The Zen of Fish,” the annual Maypole Dance, a bluegrass music workshop and concert, the 29th annual Literary Evening, Movie Nights, the Masquerade Ball, annual meetings of the Historical Society and the Islesford Neighborhood House Association, three nights of performances of “The Glass Menagerie,” and the wedding of Islesford School teacher Lindsay Eysnogle and Jason Pickering. We, too, have an island fair that is one of the summer’s biggest events.
As I was walking through the 4th Annual Islesford Fair (formerly the Islesford Church Fair, which started in1898), my sister-in-law, Karen Fernald Smallwood, came up to me and said, “I have a story for your next Working Waterfront column.”
Before I could even check with my editor, out from my mouth flew the words, “Want to write the column for me?” She said, “Yes,” my editor said, “Let’s try it,” and I gained a little extra time to finish some other work during the busy month of August.
You know how, as a child, there were certain yearly events whose anticipation caused you to have trouble falling asleep at night? There was your birthday, Christmas (of course), the last day of school, and if you grew up on Little Cranberry Island there was Fair Day. Saving up nickels and dimes was more than a little difficult when your weekly allowance was only fifteen cents, but somehow, when the fair arrived there would indeed be the sweet sound of enough change in your pocket to purchase many a treasure. The choices were numerous; doll clothes made by my grandmother Hazel Fernald, balsam fir pillows graced with little paintings by Rosamond Lord, and driftwood creations built by Marsh Bragdon in a workshop where kids were encouraged to drop in and work on their own projects. The apron table was always a favorite of mine. Although I never bought one, I loved looking at the fabrics and the colorful ric-rac which adorned pockets and waistbands and made each one so festive. These were made by my great aunts Hildegarde Ham and Rita Fernald, as well as Vivian Gray, Annette Bryant and others. There were knitted items, tea towels, fudge, fudge and more fudge! I never did find that elusive white elephant that was rumored to have its own table, but there were several tables that held items Webster defines as “objects no longer of value to their owner but of value to others.”
Outside, every child was drawn to the windows of the old library where “grab bags” dangled from fishing poles manned by Maureen Bryant and her helpers. Filled with cheap, tacky items these things were the best! It’s hard for me to take in that these memories are a good 45 years old, and I must say that our little fair became less and less exciting over the years. This was not just because I was getting older, but also because there was a certain lack of enthusiasm among enough members of the next generation to keep it going. As a result many of the special features went lacking.
This summer, thanks to the combined efforts of previous Church Club members and new ideas and energy from the Ravenhill and Scholl families (and many other volunteers) the old excitement I associated with Fair Day was back — in spades. There were lots of new attractions and activities with plenty of the old features, as well. Before things got started, as I took my fudge to its table, I decided to have a look around to see if there was anything I couldn’t live without. There on the white elephant table were two dinner plates from the set that I am currently using! “These are mine!” I exclaimed to Nancy Hillenberg who said, “Oh, then I guess you don’t have to pay for them.” I probably had sent cakes out on them or something and the recipient couldn’t remember where they came from. On my way home I told Jay Speakman about my discovery and his reply was, “I guess you’d better be careful who you invite for dinner!” The previous day, while helping to arrange all of the donated items, Sallye Parrish was heard to say, “I’ve been looking for this for 30 years!” She had come upon a Christmas crÃ¨che that had been used at our Congregational Church in December of 1977 and had never made its way back to her house. It had ended up in the attic of a home that was sold last year. When the new owner was clearing out her attic, she made a few donations to this year’s white elephant table. When all is said and done, be it dinner plates, Christmas crÃ¨ches or childlike excitement; what goes around comes around. q
— Karen Fernald Smallwood
Islesford, August 15, 2007