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Church deems street fair a big success

Five-year-old Tommy Cannon, of Chesapeake, has his face painted as a clown.

Ayden Barnes knew a good thing when he saw it. At high noon Friday Ayden was situated on the right side of the dunking tank at First Baptist Church’s street fair.

“I’ve found my place,” Ayden said knowing full well he would soon be drenched with refreshing cool water.

On the “hot seat” was First Baptist’s pastor, Dennis Strawn, who for the past hour had gone in and out of the water tank.

“I’ve lost count how many times I’ve been in the water,” he said. “I like to say Baptist preachers like water so much a dunking tank is perfect.”

And with that comment Strawn was in the drink again.

This was the first street fair the church has organized, with all proceeds going toward paying off the debt from building the Faith and Fitness Center about three years ago. The fair was the brainchild of several members of Strawn’s congregation with Amy Barnes spearheading the effort.

Inside the center was a series of tables offering handmade crafts and other items.

Valerie Freeman and her business partner Angela Malone were showing the wares from their Treasures from the Valley and Sunshine Basket, a business they started 13 years ago.

“We started doing this with (Malone’s) wedding,” Freeman said. “We do florals for parties, weddings.”

The pair also offered handmade hair ornaments and hand-woven baskets.

“We took a class at OU in community education and it has taken off since then,” Freeman said.

Nearby was Beth Walbright of BeautiControl, giving demonstrations of the relaxation techniques she offers at home parties.

“I retired from the state of Ohio and missed working with people, so I got into this,” she said.

On Saturday afternoon the dunking tank was empty but the inflatable water slide had a steady line of children giggling and splashing their way down. The women of the church were serving up hot dogs, hamburgers, sauce and chips while the band Crossing Jordan performed on a stage set up at the corner of Vernon and Fourth streets.

With only a few hours until it closed Saturday evening, Strawn said the fair was going well.

“I have no idea what has been raised,” according to Strawn, who said the church hadn’t set a fundraising goal. “We didn’t know what to expect. We never did this before.

“It is a fun way to incorporate the community. That is why we built the Faith and Fitness Center, not just for us, but for the community. This kind of thing encourages love and fellowship. It is all for a common cause.”