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Around The Grange
Brooklyn Fair a big opportunity for community groups

By John Penney (Norwich Bulletin - 8/25/18)

  AUGUST 25, 2018 --

While the rides and food are the big draws each year to the Brooklyn Fair, the event is also a chance for community groups to shine.

Between the vendors hawking fried Oreos and the stages highlighting steer pulls and racing pigs, local groups were doing a brisk business offering grilled chicken, seafood sandwiches and boiled corn.

Under a large wooden pavilion built by their organization, members of Brooklyn’s Troop 44 Boy Scout group carefully watched rows of half-chickens sizzling over open-flame grates.

“We’ve been at this fair since the mid-1960s,” Troop Committee Chairman R. David Lee said. “This is our biggest fundraiser of the year with proceeds helping cover the costs of camp, equipment and registration fees for the boys.”

Over the course of the fair, which runs through Sunday, the troop expects to go through 800 half-chickens, as well as hundreds of rolls, baked potatoes and ears of corn.

“It’s a four-day event, but for us, it’s really seven days with preparation,” Lee said. “So far, we’re about on par as last year. We have the benefit of being one of the only shaded sit-down spots here, though we’re competing with a lot of other vendors.”

Dale and Dave Demontigny took a break from helping the Mortlake Fire Company direct parking to grab a couple plates of lunch.

“We’ve been eating nothing but beef and sausage so far and grilled chicken’s a little healthier,” Dave Demontigny said.

“We’ve already had our steak sandwiches and French fries from Rays, along with ice cream.”

“But we do like to support the local groups, too,” Dale Demontigny said. “We stopped off earlier at the Elks for breakfast.”

At the Danielson Elks booth, volunteers took orders for steak sandwiches loaded with peppers and onions. Past Exalted Leader Steve Hegedus said his group has also been putting on a breakfast spread.

“Most of the vendors don’t offer a breakfast, so this is something we can provide inexpensively to the people working and visiting here,” he said. “The money we raised goes right back into the community through our youth and other programs.”

Hegedus said he recalled coming to the fair, now in its 169th year, as a kid growing up in town.

“It’s gotten bigger, but it’s still an agricultural fair at its roots,” he said.

A few feet away, the Ekonk Community Grange sold crab salad sandwiches, corn chowder and corn – lots and lots of corn.

“We’ll shuck 45 dozen ears before the fair ends,” grange member Jodi Cameron said. “We have one guy every year that orders a dozen ears himself over the course of a night. We see him coming around the corner and start putting the corn in butter for him.”

Like other groups, the grange counts on the fair traffic to help support its mission.

“That money lets us donate to the Jewett City veterans home and give out Christmas gifts at the Sterling school,” Cameron said. “I was born and bred here in town and grew up going to this fair. It’s a family-friendly event, one without too much hustle and bustle, which I like.”

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