The St. Francis Episcopal Church annual Country Fair drew hundreds of members from the Great Falls community and surrounding area to enjoy the traditional ÒcountryÓ festivities that are at the group's roots.
St. Francis Church was first established in 1964 by a small group of Episcopalians living in the area. The first services were held at Great Falls Elementary School. The land on Georgetown Pike, where the church stands, was purchased that same year. The six acres that make up the church and grounds were once a dairy farm, which led to the Country Fair idea.
The Rev. Penelope Bridges, the third rector at St. Francis, has been with the church since last year. In her welcome to fair-goers, Bridges said, ÒPreparations for the fair have been in hand for many months here at St. Francis. Parishioners have gathered regularly to work on the beautiful quilt that will be raffled today, preparing delicious baked goods and frozen dinners to sell; members moving house over the course of the year, have reviewed their belongings with an eye to making donations to the ÔTreasure TroveÕ stall and the silent auction.Ó
THE COUNTRY FAIR featured several homemade exhibits and booths to compliment the theme of the day. There was a hayride pulled by a tractor, a scarecrow-making booth, childrenÕs games and face painting, as well as the much-anticipated quilt exhibit.
ÒThese are just amazing. I donÕt think I could ever have the patience to do one of these. No, I couldnÕt do a square on this,Ó said Vellie March as she looked at the quilts draped over the pews in the church building.
This was the 10th year in a row that the Quilt Show has exhibited quilts not only from local artisans but from internationally recognized quilters. A raffle was held for the St. Francis quilt that helps raise money for the church.
After watching the puppet show Michael Shapiro said, ÒI watched it all. I didnÕt go on any rides yet. I think we need to go because I saw a bunch of stuff out there.Ó He and his mother then raced to the scarecrow-making tent to get ankle-deep in the hay.
The Country Fair is followed the next day by another much-anticipated event, the annual Blessing of the Animals, in honor of St. Francis of Assisi.