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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dogwood Fest a Blooming Good Time

Dogwood Fest a Blooming Good Time:
Annual Greenfield Hill event runs 
through May 8
(posted to 5/7)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – The skies were bright, the tents were staked, the blossoms were blossoming and hot dogs grilling. An annual tradition had returned to Fairfield, and was anticipated to draw thousands throughout its weekend run.

Centered around the Greenfield Hill Congregational Church at 1045 Old Academy Road, the 76th Annual Dogwood Festival was in full swing opening day Friday afternoon, offering a wide array of exhibits, entertainment, kids activities and more.

Event co-chair Debby Cooke, manning an information table in front of the church, provided a detailed Fest overview. “We have 51 juried crafts vendors onsite – a mix of jewelers, furniture, portrait makers, photographers, clothing, wearable accessories and lawn items,” she said. “Inside the church, we have a plant tent, children’s games and musical performances. Just outside, we have a large food tent run by the church selling baked goods, hot dogs and hamburgers. Alongside that, the Senior Pilgrim Fellowship is selling food, to raise money to send church youth to Appalachia to help build homes for the needy. We’re also offering a walking tour of the church and grounds.”

Cooke said another popular attraction is Kate’s Corner, which is essentially an upscale tag sale/boutique, offering both clothing items and antiques. Other weekend highlights include the Dogwood Dash Saturday morning and a “Raise the Roof” party Saturday evening.

“We get several thousand visitors who come to see the dogwoods in bloom, experience musical performances and just enjoy time with friends and family,” said Cooke. “The majority of all funds raised goes to over 30 charities as well as organizations in India, where the church maintains a school.”

With regard to the dogwoods, and the weather, Cooke said, “The dogwoods are in bloom and looking fine. The weather’s supposed to be beautiful over the weekend, with just a passing shower Saturday, otherwise in the 70s.”

One of the vendors onsite, Carol Lebeaux, a silhouettist, said she had been exhibiting at the Fest for over 20 years. “It’s a wonderful show,” she said. “Visitors are great. Many people come back to me year after year with their children, making silhouettes a family tradition.”

Another vendor, Som Clark, a name bracelet maker, was returning for her sixth year. “My bracelets are very popular with a lot of kids,” she said. “Visitors are very friendly and enthusiastic. It’s a nice show, especially when the weather’s good.”

Dina Baker, of “To the Queen’s Tastes”, was serving up British specialty desserts. “This is my third or fourth year here,” she said. “I love coming here. People love our fresh ingredients and the fact that we sell day of, nothing day old.”

Looking over several trays of impatiens in the plant sale area, visitor Carol Goddard, of Fairfield, said she had been coming to the event since moving to the area in 1978. “They didn’t used to have a craft show initially,” she recalled. “The event was much more modest, with mostly the plants, church events and dogwoods. It has really grown since then. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon, especially with beautiful weather like we’re having this afternoon.”

Strolling the grounds with her boys Grant and Evan, ages 2 and 4 respectively, Sara Snyder of Fairfield said, “We’ve been coming for the past three years. Evan did the Dogwood Mini Dash last year and will do it again tomorrow. There are so many things to enjoy here and we love looking at the plants and Kate’s Corner stuff.”

Anne Mele, of Fairfield, who was toting a large bag of popcorn and a pastry for her kids, said she grew up in town and has been coming to the Fest for the past 15 years. “The best thing about it is they are so committed to their charitable causes and meet immediately after the weekend ends to disburse the funds,” she said. “Giving back is what it’s really all about. Of course, there are the beautiful dogwoods to see. The event hits two key things in one.”

A master gardener quite familiar with the dogwood tree’s profile, Mele added, “Legend has it that the petals symbolize the cross, a stain on the leaves represents Jesus’ blood as he was nailed to the crucifix, and the upraised center represents his thorny crown. It’s a nice native tree, that birds love, and has seasonal interest throughout the year.”

Dogwood Festival Hours:
Friday, May 6, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, May 7, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, May 8, Noon to 5 p.m.

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