St. Peter’s Penny Fair Celebrates Its 50th Year

By Cookie Steponaitis

Just some of the wonderful prizes to be won at the 50th St. Peters Penny Fair
photo provided
Just some of the wonderful prizes to be won at the 50th St. Peters Penny Fair

     Remember the line from traditional Christmas Carol, “Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man’s hat. If you haven’t got a penny, a hay-penny will do. If you haven’t got a penny then God bless you.”  Most Americans can not fathom a time when a penny could wield buying power or even remember when a Penny Loafer was not only fashion, but a way to make sure you never left home without any money. For all those skeptics out there who believe the copper coin is outdated, come to St. Peter’s Penny Fair on November 5, 2011 to witness the 50th year of a tradition merging community, generosity, fun, fundraising and the penny. The doors open for ticket sales at 10AM and continue through the day until the drawing begins at 7PM.  

     The fair for Patricia Jackman Kellogg is Halloween, Thanksgiving and a special family tradition not to be missed. Pat Kellogg shared the history of this special event which began in 1961 when her parents, Charles and Jeanne Jackman asked Mr. and Mrs. Richard Danyow, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Ryan, Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Senesac, Mr. and Mrs. Desmond Casey and Mr. and Mrs. Dave Drohan to help them with a new fund-raiser for St. Peter’s Church.  The Jackmans, while visiting their friends the Jacobs, had attended a Penny Fair and thought it would be a way to raise money while having fun as a family.  Young and old could participate. “The process was simple,” shared Pat Kellogg. “You bought your tickets and just walked around and put your ticket in the bucket beside the prize you wanted to win. It was a success from the very first year.”
     While inflation has resulted in many casualties in the world during the past fifty years, the Penny Fair has remained virtually unchanged. Granted the price has gone up to two cents a ticket but it is still one of the great bargains left. Raffle tickets are 50 for $1.00 or 300 for $5.00. “If you haven’t attended before you will be surprised by how many items there are and that there are gifts for all ages,” added Pat Kellogg. “It really is fun to have one ticket in every bucket so at every drawing you have a chance to win.

     You can buy tickets and play anytime between 10AM and 7PM Enjoy the drawing if you want to be present but you do not have to be there for the drawing.  Your tickets will be watched for you and we’ll let you know if you win. Besides the general raffle there are three special raffle areas - a mini-raffle, center table raffle and cash raffle.  This year a few of the mini-raffle prizes are:  a Kindle with keyboard and Wi-Fi built in, a 32 inch flat screen L television, a hand-crafted boot bench, a table and a horse-drawn wagon ride for ten donated by Fleur de Lis. Tickets for this raffle are $1.00 each.”

     Over the years there have been many memorable moments and the event has always been possible due to the generosity of very dedicated volunteers. In addition to the founding families, many individuals have contributed for years to the event. Ernie and Brenda Bertrand were chairs of the committee for twenty years. While the Penny Fair originally began with approximately 100 prizes available, this year Fair goers will be treated to over 200-250 prizes. “We have had so many talented and generous individuals and businesses who have donated through the years, remarked Pat Kellogg “Many for all 50 of the years and they are so truly appreciated.”

     In addition to the atmosphere of fun and family, the attendees will again be treated to the voice of Ann Sullivan announcing the winning tickets. For the past forty years, Ann’s voice has been giving the winners the good news and providing insight into the history of not only the Penny Fair, but the families and events that shape the town and make it home. At the helm of the planning this year are committee chairmen Missy Campono and Jeanne Senesac, who have both been very involved over the years and along with their committee are determined to make the 50th Anniversary Penny Fair the best yet.

     “I was 23 the first year of the Penny Fair and I was recruited!” shared Pat Kellogg. “Fifty years later I look back on the years that I was able to participate with wonderful memories of working together with so many people on this project.  I remember the celebration on the first night that the money raised reached $5000.  My mother in her exuberance gave the priest a kiss.  He was very shy and blushed.  We teased my mother about it for years after.”

     So, find those rolls of pennies you have been saving for a rainy day and come to St. Peter’s to experience a timeless tradition. The best of what makes Vermont so unique will be on display that night. There will be superb craftsmanship, camaraderie, food, fun and all proceeds benefit the community! Pennies are indeed alive, well and very sought after!

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