By Lauren Schiavone
Hometown Weekly Staff
The Holly Berry Fair has returned to Walpole!
Marking the beginning of the 2022 holiday season, the fair is held annually on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. With the United Church of Walpole under construction, church members and event organizers had made adjustments to continue the fair’s legacy of 41 years.
On the day, rows and rows of church pews were transformed into a miniature Christmas bazaar. Presenting a slightly scaled-down version of the typical Holly Berry Fair, church members were nonetheless excited to continue the tradition whilst also looking forward to next year’s renovation.
Above all, there was certainly no lack of creativity or generosity.
Among the unique items on offer at the fair were felted cardinal ornaments, an angel made out of church hymnal pages, and string art made from the wood of the pastor’s old office. Pieces of church history were being repurposed into crafts.
The construction certainly changed the atmosphere of the fair, but showed just how resilient and thoughtful the community is. “We are in the midst of a $3.7 million renovation for the church,” Pastor Anna Flowers commented. “Next year will be in our brand new spaces. The whole space will be gut renovated.”
Much of the space, excluding rooms in the basement and the sanctuary, was off-limits for the fair due to construction. The church approached the situation as an opportunity rather than a challenge, creating a new layout for the day, eager to host future events once construction is completed. “This is a very historic church,” Pastor Flowers added, “and we’re happy to see the church stand tall for future generations.”
Families and friends stopped by for some baked goods, bidding on the silent auction and online auction. The sanctuary was beautifully decorated with holly accents and fireplaces on screen, while seasonal music played. Tables were laid out on church pews to display homemade crafts, treats, and more. Downstairs, the children’s area included craft-making, holiday shopping for family members, and gift wrapping. A new addition, “The Island of Misfit Toys”, which featured gently-used, donated items, was located in the basement.
The Holly Berry Fair “puts everybody in the holiday spirit,” noted Jane Bergen, a chair for the Holly Berry Fair and parish member. “We continue this year despite the challenges. It’s been a terrific community event.”
Spirited children, meanwhile, came upstairs after proudly finishing their shopping and having their gifts wrapped by helpful volunteers. They wrote letters to Santa and enjoyed the entertainment of the afternoon. Walpole residents Lois and Philip Czachorowski of Venture Into Juggling shared their skills with a crowd — and they included a holiday twist, involving children in juggling pie ingredients for Thanksgiving, including a pumpkin, sweet potato and apple. After the show, kids even got the chance to try their hand at juggling, too.
Finally, the sound of jingle bells drew closer and applause erupted as Santa and Mrs. Claus were welcomed. The couple had a long line of children waiting for them to discuss Christmas gifts, introduce themselves, and spread even more holiday cheer.
“Sharon [Carleton] Jane [Bergen] and I have been the trio putting a lot of hours in,” said Barbara Tausey, chair of the Holly Berry Fair, which is an all-hands-on-deck effort. “Sharon is a giant visionary; she can see it and she makes it happen. I’ve done technology and put in the fireplaces, music, and the online auction. Jane is good at tracking items on a spreadsheet and recruiting helpers and volunteers. We all work together and everybody in the community is so generous. Creating crafts, baked goods… it’s a total team effort.”
The efforts have been making a positive impact, and welcoming the holiday season in town, for over four decades. “It’s so great to come back year after year,” Tausey warmly shared. “We look forward to keeping it going.”