It’s fair season in Glen Ellen
We’re always surprised how rapidly summer slips by. From the Fourth of July fireworks in Sonoma until the rapidly approaching autumnal equinox (arriving this week, Sept. 22), summer seems to evaporate in a heated mirage. Too, too precious are those lazy days of summer with a blazing sun, a starry night sky and the golden luminous grasses reflecting the moon’s shine. (Note, that’s moon’s shine, like you Don Mahoney, the moon man of Midsummer; not moonshine as some may suspect.) The summer farmers market has kept us well fed from others efforts and their resulting bounty, even as the evaporating creeks herald winter’s approach, and the season’s waning light. For us, the promise of the Glen Ellen Village Fair, makes October a welcome joy, a reason to celebrate the lovely departing season.
Fittingly, this week’s column is devoted almost entirely to our annual Glen Ellen Village Fair, scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 14. It is always the second Sunday in October for future reference. And that note is as much to me as to my readers. When folks call me (and many do) with the simple inquiry, “When is that Glen Ellen Village Fair?” I can rarely remember. Ah, the cruelty of age; but if I’m honest, I’ve always been this way. My dear and long-departed Papa Morris Ayers would easily attest to that. Just to be clear, I welcome your calls, even if neither of us can quite remember the date of one year’s fair or the next. I always end up getting good news and future column fodder from your calls.
Back to this year’s fair: you may want to clip and save this information, or if you’re online, bookmark it for later reference. At the end of the article, I’ll list all the important fair volunteers you need to contact to join the parade, or arrange for booth space or (especially helpful) to volunteer that day.
At high noon our beloved, eclectic Village Fair Parade begins its slow amble down Carquinez Avenue, turning left at Arnold Drive, veering slightly right to cross the main bridge in town and ending a couple of blocks from where it commenced. Short but exuberant.
Viewing begins at the corner of Carquinez and Arnold while the parade participants assemble higher atop the hill. It’s best to be a few minutes early to get the front row spaces for parade viewing, but never fear that we’re as crowded as Sonoma’s Fourth of July parade. This is small town stuff, and all the better for that.
While the parade begins at noon (more or less), Arnold Drive in Glen Ellen is closed from Warm Springs Road on the north to London Ranch Road on the south, beginning at 11 a.m. and remaining closed until after the 5 p.m. clean-up time. Our fair extends a short couple of blocks, but for us local folks, it’s the center of the universe.
The parade is most certainly the shortest and sweetest spectacle any town ever features. Yes short, but slow, too; the parading folks take their merry time. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to ooh and awe over cute kids, clever dogs, happy folks, shiny fire trucks and more while conversing with your neighbors and friends on the sidelines. In recent years, crowds watching the parade have increased (hint: arrive early). Still mostly it seems that our parade has as many participants as viewers. Ever fitting for our town.
This is also an invitation for you to join the parade. Please march along with us. You can pull a wagon, ride in a fancy or funky vehicle, dance or drum down the street, or simply walk and wave. Of course, we love eccentric and colorful (right Tasha Drengson? Or maybe that’s you Squire and Suzy Fridell?), and the noisy and cute (yes that’s you, Kenwood School Band, last year led by Karen Haslag; we’re hoping you’ll bring the kids this year Gary Vogensen and yes, that’s you Dunbar kids, too). But we accept and even celebrate the commonplace.
I march with the good folks of the Bouverie Preserve. Some of us dress as flowers and insects, some of us don our hiking get-ups and a few arrive with flash and flair (as John Martin often does in his kilt, or Georgia Bostedt as a buzzing bee).
We’re sort of hoping that folks from Quarryhill will be marching, too (finally time for their first parade, I think). Can’t you just imagine Ann Peden and Steven Hightower dressed up as flowers? Oh, maybe not. Both are too classy, as is (but maybe they’ll heed this challenge). Or Bill McNamara as an avid Asian botanist? (Well, he is just that, though not quite in the way that silly turn of phrase implies).
Could someone from the Sonoma Land Trust march as the ghosts of Joan Cochran and her former frequent guest, General Vallejo? Or imagine Anne Teller and her Oak Hill friends dressed as vegetables? Nope, that fantasy doesn’t quite fit. So how about Tom Rusert, wearing his Ibis hat? (Oh Tom, you say that’s real?) We’d like to see retired Kathy Swett and her friends slowly prancing on horseback, suited up like elegant cowgirls (which they are).
Well, you get the idea: All are welcome to march or prance or dance their way down the streets of Glen Ellen in our one-of-a-kind extravaganza. From mundane to merry prankster, you are welcome to parade in Glen Ellen on Oct. 14.
Our parade is always led by the Boy Scouts and sometimes the Girl Scouts of Glen Ellen, holding our flag, presenting the colors, as they say.
The scouts are followed by the Parade Marshal, chosen from among beloved local folks. In the past we’ve honored many important Glen Ellenites who are now unofficial village saints. Among those are Becky London, Jack’s daughter (1991); Bill Meglen, former fire chief (1992); Russ Kingman, Jack London scholar (1993); George and Phyllis Ellman, local environmental activists (1994); Helen Benziger, philanthropist and wine matron (1997).
Trina and Norm Oliver are the team in charge of organizing the parade, and they’d love to hear from you. Don’t be shy; you’ll be glad to join the parade. Email the Olivers at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Commit to joining the parade, then, with that gentle pressure you’ll come up with a great get-up, suitable to spice up our parade. I’ll see you in the parade or on the sidelines on Sunday, Oct. 14.
Our Glen Ellen Village Fair continues with live music and dancing by the hay bales, delicious food of an amazing variety. From Barry and Don Shone flipping burgers, to Sondra Bernstein’s crew carefully plating salads, there’s something for every taste and pocketbook. Some of us indulge in our once-a-year treat at Uncle Bill’s corndog stand, but others can’t resist London Lodge’s pulled pork sandwiches and washed down with tart, cold lemonade. Drinks, include local beer proffered by the Glen Ellen firefighters or local wines poured by volunteers, both for a small donation. Of course, there’s plenty of fruity non-alcoholic offerings and the local stores stock up on cold water.
The dunk tank is where local (courageous or foolhardy?) folks – mostly our beloved fire fighters – volunteer for an abrupt cool down. Arnold Drive is lined with booths, both showcasing many of our local nonprofit groups, as well as local vendors of art and craft.
Mostly folks spend the day roaming up and down Arnold Drive greeting friends and neighbors, sharing stories and watching the rest of the crowd. It isn’t such a bad idea to carry a folding chair if you plan to spend the day, though there are always the hay bales for a rotating crowd watching the musicians. At 5 p.m. the quilt raffle closes the fair with one lucky winner thrilled. Most locals remain to help clean the resulting chaos of a lovely day. It’s a true hometown celebration; but we welcome visitors, too, who can spend the day living the American dream of small town life in the charming village of Glen Ellen.
For the younger visitors to the Glen Ellen Village Fair, the ever-popular Kids’ Alley (right off Arnold Drive, just up Carmel Avenue) is a wholesome adventure ripe with games, excitement, prizes and treats. The boisterous environs of the Bouncy Toy, sponsored by the good folks from the local Glen Ellen Community Church, entertains the active, youngest crowd. Older kids (middle school and junior high) are invited to volunteer as helpers in Kids’ Alley. That provides a good service opportunity for teens, who also hang out with friends for part of the fair.
One of the big events at the fair every year is the quilt raffle. This year’s quilt is a stunner. Beautiful and beautifully providing the theme for this year’s fair: Fans of Glen Ellen. The final raffle ticket sale events will be at the Glen Ellen Village Market on Oct. 6, 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.; and midday and later at the Vintage Festival in Sonoma, Sept. 28 and 30. (That fair, by the way, organized by another amazing Glen Ellen volunteer, Paula Vinson). Of course, raffle tickets are also available during the fair.
This year’s quilt was actually created in 2004 and won at the fair by Marsha Kliewer, sister-in-law to Georgia Cohen (whose smiling face you often see selling those luscious mini donuts that her top-hatted husband creates). Marsha purchased 20 tickets that year, quilt unseen. She was just supporting a cause that Georgia loved (aside: cool sis-in-law!). Surprise! Marsha won the quilt and treasured it. Now, whether part of downsizing her home or redecorating, we don’t know, but Marsha has re-gifted this beautiful quilt to the fair. That gift is a real boon to the Village Quilters and an awesome opportunity for those of us who coveted that quilt originally. The quilters then were Tom Benton, Vicki Crowe, Cathy Leonard, Janet Laursen, Lois Marvel, Phyllis Ellman, Margie Foster, Cheryl Franzini, Leslie Smith, Marsha Moran, Beth Bradbury, Natalia Vicino, Eva Westberg, Georgia Cohen, Deb Pool, Judith Anna, Teresa Schulz, Orna Pascal, Tillie Angus, Mary Ann Carr and Shelley Arrowsmith. Some of those folks are stalwart, yearly contributors to this huge project. Others are among those fore-noted saints of Glen Ellen, folks we miss. And a few listed are occasional quilters, yet with artistic flair apparent and community service in mind. Lisa Hardy, Glen Ellen firefighter and paramedic, is the hard-working volunteer who helps show the quilt and coordinates this project. We suspect that her Sweetie, Michael Hardy has more than a bit of work on this, too, even though not always officially listed as a quilt volunteer.
While you can thoroughly enjoy our Glen Ellen Village Fair with nary a penny in your pocket (the parade and music are free for all, as are the information booths), it helps to have a little change to eat heartily, to quench your thirst, to buy cool art and jewelry, to take a chance on the quilt raffle, to buy one of the great commemorative t-shirts and especially for your children to enjoy Kids’ Alley. The games there have a meager charge, which helps guarantee that every child who visits Kids’ Alley receives a goody bag and game prizes.
All of the money raised at the fair, including the quilt raffle, wine and beer sales and booth fees, go to a selected group of our local, worthy nonprofits. In the past that has always included Dunbar School and the Fire Department. Given the costs of mounting such an event (including insurance, temporary liquor license, Highway Patrol officers who keep the peace by keeping cars out of the mix and other expenses), the proceeds don’t amount to much. Obviously, the purpose of the day is to celebrate our town and the folks who live here and love it.
All of the labor and organization for this day is given freely by community volunteers. It’s a big job, huge, even, we’d say. That’s why we hope everybody will volunteer for just a bit of time. The biggest job comes at the end of the day, when clean up time commences. Be there. But let folks from the committee know you are ready and willing to help.
This is our 22nd annual Glen Ellen Village Fair. Actually, it’s the 22nd anniversary of the revived fair. It flourished in the ‘50s and ‘60s (and Jim Berkland has the old time movies that prove it) until a motley contingent of hellish angelics (not necessarily associated with an actual similarly-named group) roared their way into our small town celebration, creating chaos and an end to that era of the fair. Now, we temper those tendencies with adequate law enforcement and highway patrol presence. So far, the fair’s been mild and mildly eccentric, just as befits this little burg.
Among the local folks who spend the entire year planning and organizing this fabulous fair are the officers of the Glen Ellen Village Fair Committee. These folks include Leslie Vaughn, Lisa Hardy, Vicki Nightingale and Eileen Berger. Other committee participants include Janie Soto, Trina Oliver, Norm Oliver, Shannon Lee, Michael Hardy, Bob Bonino and Rick Dunham.
The fair committee invites vendors or nonprofits who would like to have a booth at the fair to contact Janie Soto, email@example.com. Please do this soon as the official deadline has ended. Generally, Jane can find a spot for anyone interested, but that’s not a guarantee.
Those who want to be part of this year’s FANtastic parade, should contact Trina and Norm at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kids’ Alley coordinator is still seeking volunteers for set-up and cleanup or 1.5 hour shifts to help run the games or the information booth. Middle schoolers and older are especially welcome, though adults are necessary, too. Shannon Lee is the coordinator for that, email@example.com. In addition, Kids' Alley requires the upfront purchase of goodies for the prizes and gift bags. If you would like to make a check donation please send to Glen Ellen Village Fair at P.O. Box 96, Glen Ellen, CA 95442.
Finally, our Glen Ellen Village Fair also sports a Facebook community page, which will be a welcome source of last minute information. Check it out. If you’re frustrated by emailing and sick of online inquiries or just want instant answers, the contact person for this year’s Glen Ellen Village Fair is Leslie Vaughn, one of the hardest working, most dedicated volunteers I’ve met. She’s making this year’s fair happen and you can call her at 935-8288.
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Call or write me at 996-5995 or P.O. Box 518, GE 95442. Or email me Creekbottom@earthlink.net.