August 09, 2006

The 40th (They Figure) Fishermen's Fair

It's a Bonac summer benchmark. This Saturday the Springs Improvement Society will mount its annual fishermen's fair on the grounds of Ashawagh Hall on Springs Fireplace Road. According to SIS VP Vito Sisti, Society members estimate the fair's been an annual event for some 40 years.

The community favorite offers a host of activities, plus shopping and eating opportunities.

A kiddie area on the grounds of the nearby Springs Library will feature face painting, pony rides and a slew of games to delight and entertain the little ones.

For grownups whose interests run to mysticism, this year a professional palm reader will reveal your future. Fancy taking a chance? Tiffany & Co. has stepped up with a mystery gift that will be the focal point of a raffle. Over 100 vendors will be on hand for those who favor a sure thing. Crafts, T-shirts and even fossils will be on sale until 5 p.m.

Hungry revelers can tempt their taste buds with seafood fare like mussels and clam chowder. Descendants of the famed chef Pierre Franey will provide delicious crepes alongside more traditional fair fare like hot dogs, soda, ice cream and cotton candy.

Inside Ashawagh Hall, the Springs invitational art show boasts works from 120 separate artists, many of them local. Proceeds from art sales benefit SIS's scholarship fund. Each year the Society gives money to a graduating senior from East Hampton High School.

The fair is SIS's main fundraiser each year. Money from the event is put towards maintaining the historic hall, which has been a central gathering place in Springs for over 120 years. Originally built as a one-room schoolhouse in 1844, according to Society members, the cost of construction was just $418. A second room was added in 1885 for just $160. Over the years the building has seen a variety of additions and improvements — electricity was installed in 1925. When Springs School burned to the ground in 1929, Ashawagh Hall revived its original purpose, once again hosting area school kids.

Now, the landmark is in need of major repairs, to the tune of about $125,000. So while the Society hopes this year's fair is the smash hit it traditionally is, additional contributions are sought. Checks can be sent to the Springs Improvement Society care of PO BOX 537, East Hampton, New York 11937.

In the meantime, Sisti is still trolling for volunteers to help run games and booths this Saturday. He reminded that students can earn community service credits for helping out. "Volunteers can show up at 9 a.m. And somebody will gladly put you to work," he said. Finally, Sisti recognized the efforts of Chucky Bologna, who has coordinated the annual fair for the last several years. Without her help, he said, it would be "very difficult" to mount the ambitious, volunteer-operated event.

Vending kiosks will be open from 10 to 5 p.m., hours for other fair attractions run 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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