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Strawberry Fair gets a good watering

AMENIA — It’s been a long time since Amenia’s annual Strawberry Fair saw rain, as many people observed last Saturday, June 12.

This was in reference, of course, to the precipitation coming down right over their heads, which ranged from a slight drizzle to an outright downpour. But that didn’t stop the Strawberry Fair from attracting visitors.

Some came with umbrellas. One came with a Batman-style rain coat. Others, like Webutuck High School’s cheerleaders, didn’t care about the rain: Their fundraiser this year involved a machine that, when triggered by hitting a target with a softball, sent the cheerleader falling into a tub of water. The rain probably wasn’t much of a deterrent there.

The Strawberry Fair, in its 37th year, is put on by the Women’s Association of the United Presbyterian Church in Amenia.

“This is our main fundraiser,” event organizer Helen Cook said while sitting under a tent early Saturday morning. “We depend on it.”

Cook echoed many fair-goers’ sentiments about the weather.

“Very seldom does it rain, and we’ve been so fortunate,” she said. “But there seem to be quite a few people walking around so I think people still came out to support it.”

Vendors lined the church’s parking lot, and a magician and exotic petting zoo kept everyone’s mind off the rain.

Just across the lawn the Amenia Free Library had set up its annual book and bake sale as well as its silent auction.

The baked goods sale did better this year than last, but the book sale made less money, Library Board Trustee and Treasurer Charlotte Murphy reported.

“The weather didn’t help, but we did have a lot of people,” she said. The numbers weren’t tallied yet for the silent auction, but at least 45 businesses contributed the 60 items up for auction.

As the main attraction, two full palettes of strawberries were donated by Freshtown and plenty of people went home with a box or two of the fresh and fragrant  fruit.

“This is pretty well-attended,” said store director Lesley Rohan, “as it should be. It’s the official start of summer in the Harlem Valley.”

Just then Amenia resident Cynthia Waaler approached the booth for a few boxes of strawberries.

“I came for the strawberries and I also like to go over to the library,” she said. “The fair marks the start of summer.”

Rohan smiled knowingly.

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