Charity Fair marks 20 years

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

The traditional anniversary gift after 20 years is a set of China, but the staff of one local school was just hoping for support.

Shortly before 11 a.m., fair-goers started to trickle in to the parking lot of St. Joseph Catholic Church to play games, bounce on inflatable rides, buy raffle tickets and sample the food, which has become one of the most popular attractions of the three-day event that runs through today.

The Charity Fair has been a Memorial Day tradition for two decades and continues to grow, according to organizers. Before the current Charity Fair began at the school, the churches sponsored another fair near the site of Rax restaurant. The previous fair ended in the mid-1970s.

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Several thousand people are expected to flock to the event this weekend. All of the money raised goes into the general fund of St. Joseph High School and St. Lawrence School.

“The whole community really supports what we do here,” said James J. Mains III, administrator of both schools. “It’s an integral part of our schools; it helps to keep our doors open.”

Cathy McKnight, one of the organizers of the event, agreed with Mains saying, “This event really means the survival of the schools. All of the money is needed for operating expenses.”

She said both schools operate on “shoestring budgets,” and the annual fund-raiser prevents frequent hikes in tuition.

The event is not only an important financial boost for the schools, Mains said the fair has become somewhat of a “family reunion” as local Catholics and other community members get together for fellowship, food and fun.

“It’s a good chance to see people that you haven’t seen for a while,” said Chris Monte, another one of the fair organizers. “It’s a really good thing not only for the schools, but for everybody in Ironton.”

There are a number of activities, including games and rides, a rummage sale, live music and raffles that will continue today. Another wildly popular part of the fair is the food from a variety of different vendors, offering everything from barbecue and funnel cakes, to Bahama Mamas and chow mein, among many others.

The fair begins with breakfast today at 10 a.m. Rides and games will begin at 1 p.m., followed by the rummage sale which runs from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Local band Night Shift will perform from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. On Monday, there will be bake sales and food booths open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The fair will wrap up with raffle drawings at 1 p.m.