and Much More
ATTLEBORO - Throughout the years, the annual fair at Murray Unitarian
Universalist Church has morphed from one geared around crafts to one
that can fill your gullet with delicious homemade treats and your nose
with the wafting smell of cookies.
BY MEREDITH TIBBETTS STAFF WRITER / SUN CHRONICLE STAFF
The two day fair takes place on the Friday and
Saturday, Nov. 11-12. On Friday, the
fair runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m to 3 p.m. at the church, 505 North Main St.
The fair includes a bake shop, handmade gifts, jewelry, accessories,
crafts, books, "almost antiques,"
grandma's attic, raffles, gourmet lunch and dinner entrees and much more.
The church fair is important
to Murray; it's the largest fundraiser for the year. But as longtime
volunteer Irene Yutkins points out, church fairs are important for the
area as a whole.
"It's a way to see what the community is doing. I
think it would be a loss if we didn't have them, because it's a
throwback to a different time," Yutkins said. "Each fair has a different
flavor. (People) go to look for a bargain and find something unique for
Beverly Hall, who has been involved in the church since
the late 1950s, would agree. "It's a help to have other fairs. It
brings more people out. It's definitely not a competition."
volunteers at Murray have been donating their time for decades. Their
duties have changed with the times, but their passion for the cause
hasn't. Here are some of their stories:
congregant of Murray since 1957 (the first year the cornerstone was
laid in its new location away from downtown), Attleboro resident Beverly
Hall, has been everything from fair chairwoman to a crafter to a
recruiter (her current position).
"Back in the early 1960s I was very active in the church. My girls were
young and I took them around in my car," Hall said. "At that time, I was
mostly attending craft workshops. I was making Whinnie the Pooh stuffed
animals and felt Advent calender trees." A lot has changed since then.
can remember in the '60s and into the '70s we had a man who had a
woodworking shop in his basement. He got a group together. They did
beautiful work," Hall said. They would donate their artwork to the
church to sell. "We used to have just a church supper on Friday. Now
there's a buffet from the morning to when it closes."
dedicated to knitting and sewing has become a general craft room, and
the plant room that used to exist is no longer. "It changed according to
the people involved. (Change) will always happen in this type of
Hall took a hiatus from volunteering about 1980 after
her husband fell ill. She got back into volunteering about six years
ago, when she started to teach Sunday school. She says the children
"keep me young." That was also when she became a recruiter for the fair.
Irene and Len Yutkins
residents Irene Yutkins, and her husband Len, have been
volunteering at Murray's fair since they were in their 30s, around 1980.
are retired (Len taught at Foxboro High School for 31 years), and they
have taken over the book room at the fair for the past six years. All
the books are donated. Irene said the church starts to prepare
for the fair the Sunday before it takes place, right after morning
service. Volunteers put everything away, and between Sunday and
Thursday, people are working 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. preparing the church.
Yutkins says she can recall a time when the church was focused more on crafts than on other items.
At least 10 to 20 of us would make 30 to 40 ornaments a month," she
said, adding that the effort was discontinued because the ornaments
couldn't fetch a price worth the time put into making them. Yutkins
said there are more women in the workforce now, meaning there are fewer
available to volunteer their craft-making skills. As a result, the fair
has moved from craft goods to baked goods.
"Our bake shop has gone from a little stand to a big thing. Our main thing is our cookies," Yutkins said.
change for the church and the Yutkinses is security. Yutkins can recall
when her husband used to sleep overnight at the church to guard the
antiques against potential vandals.
"Now we have alarms and people stay late and come early," she said.
Frank Blackbird has been involved with the Murray fair for 20
years. For the past 10 years, however, his role has been the same: cook
and an organizer of the gourmet buffet. The former North Attleboro resident now resides in Seekonk, but he is strongly dedicated to his church in Attleboro.
like to cook, create a little bit. I'm not a chef by any means, but my
wife likes my cooking," Blackbird said with a slight laugh. Blackbird
said he has been working with the same group of men for most of the 10
years he has cooked for the fair. That not only helps to create a fun
atmosphere, but an efficient one, too.
"When we are done prepping
Thursday, Friday night we crack open some wine and beers. We work our
tails off but we have fun doing it," Blackbird said. "Because we have
been doing it for so long, we know what everyone is going to do."
the past, Blackbird used an old church recipe for white chowder. Last
year he switched to a red chowder, and he it almost sold out of it in
one day. The sales from the gourmet food have been decent; Blackbird
said in the past five years it has grossed between $1,500 to $3,000.
This article originally appeared in the Attleboro Sun Chronicle on October 7nd, 2011.
here to view another nice article about our fair!