It’s changed over 100 years: Fairgoers no longer don formal suits and ties, and the booths are real canvas instead of makeshift ones fashioned from tree branches.Even so, the annual summer fair of the First Presbyterian Church of Amagansett is set to go yet again on church grounds this Saturday, August 3, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The fair will be replete with centennial festivities, from games, toys, crafts, food and drink to the ever-popular “Super Raffle,” which offers everything from restaurant gift certificates and an iPad Mini to bagpipe lessons with the church’s pastor, the Reverend Steve Howarth. The event will be held on the grounds of the cream-colored church with blue trim on the corner of Main Street and Meeting House Lane.
“There’s something small-townish about it, in a community that’s had many changes,” said the Rev. Howarth, the church’s pastor of eight years. “It’s nice to have those types of traditions.”
The fair, held each year on the first Saturday of August, draws more than 1,000 guests and raises more than $15,000 for the 110-member church each year, the pastor said.
Although it is a fundraiser, the number-one goal, the reverend said, is to offer hospitality and a delightful day to the community and its visitors.
Little documentation remains about what was included in the early days of the fair, but it is known that it was held in the same spot, between the church manse and Scoville Hall, a multipurpose building and community hall that burned down in October 2011. (The church will definitely rebuild, Rev. Howarth said, and it expects to reach a final settlement with its insurance company within the next month or two.)
For past fairs, the East Hampton Town Highway Department used to donate tree branches to be used to shade the “booths.” “Today, we have pop-up tents, so it’s a bit less organic,” the pastor said with a laugh.
The heart of the fair is its children’s games and the sale of various craft items like embroidered pillowcases and baby clothes, although the number of such items has gradually diminished over the years as women have moved into the workplace, he observed. As always, gently used books, jewelry and household items, also will be for sale.
As for the games, that is the pastor’s favorite part, he said. Some have been upgraded through the years, and pony rides, a petting zoo, a “moon bounce,” a magic show and clowns have been added, but some old favorites have become traditions. “You hear parents introduce games to children that they enjoyed,” Rev. Howarth said.
One popular game is the “Post Office,” where children select one of numerous little post office boxes to open. Inside is a prize.
The prizes are of good quality, the pastor noted. “We want them to have a good experience, rather than us using less expensive prizes and increasing our profits.”
Another favorite is a fishing game, in which children stand in a small rowboat on the lawn and hook wooden fish with poles. This game harks back not to the theme of fish in the Biblical sense but to the maritime history of the community and its reliance on the sea, as well as the church’s historically strong contingent of baymen, Rev. Howarth explained.
Not to be forgotten, of course, is the food.
A lobster salad dinner—a highlight of fairs past—has fallen by the wayside, and refreshments have evolved from a formal tea table with what the Rev. Howarth called “rather dainty crustless sandwiches,” to hot dogs, hamburgers, watermelon, popcorn, iced coffee and grilled corn on the cob.
This year, veggie burgers will be on the menu—another sign, the pastor said, of changing tastes.