<bt>St. Mary of Sorrows in Fairfax Station will conduct its annual Labor Day picnic on Monday, Sept. 5. It will be the church’s last picnic at that location, a tradition that is over a century old, said Maria Crawford of St. Mary’s.
The Labor Day celebration begins with the “White Elephant Sale” on Friday, Sept. 2, from 6-9 p.m. at the church hall off Sideburn Road. The sale continues Saturday, Sept. 3, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 4, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and finishes with a silent auction.
The sale goes back to the first days of the picnic, when farmers would bring items that they had finished with for the year and give them to people who needed them, said Crawford. Today, families bring unwanted items to sell, and the proceeds go to help fund the picnic as well as to the charities St. Mary’s sponsors, such as So Others Might Eat (SOME), Food for Others, and Bethany House.
The picnic starts on Labor Day with a Catholic Mass at 10 a.m., followed by a traditional “Blessing of the Tools,” where people can bring anything from backpacks to kitchen utensils to be blessed by a priest.
“In the old days, farmers used to bring shovels and hammers,” said Crawford. “Now it is a little bit of everything.”
The picnic will feature crafts, games for children, rock-climbing walls, and a dunking booth. Both of the parish priests have agreed to be dunked, said Crawford. Church volunteers will prepare a traditional chicken dinner, cooked with the church’s secret recipe. The celebration also includes a raffle, for a grand prize of a 32-inch LCD flat-panel television, said Crawford. Bingo games will also be offered.
A reenactor portraying Clara Barton, who worked as a nurse in St. Mary’s Church during the Civil War, will give presentations in the church at 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., said Barbara Stoetzer of St. Mary’s.
St. Mary’s began as a Civil War-era missionary parish of the St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Alexandria, said Stoetzer. Priests would take the train out to the country and conduct monthly services for the Irish railroad workers who had settled in Fairfax Station, said Stoetzer.