Sep 10, 2018
PEMBROKE — Over the past three decades, the Brick House Corners Fair has grown from its humble roots as a small craft and baked goods sale on a patch of gravel at the corners of Route 77 and 5, one with trash-can turkey and tin-can walkie talkies on string, to a much-anticipated event that draws crowds in the thousands, even on cold and cloudy Saturdays, every September.
“It started out when this wasn’t blacktop,” said Brick House Chairman John Wolf, a former Town of Pembroke supervisor, as a crowd undeterred by 50-something-degree temperatures flocked to hear if they’d won any of the dozens of overflowing baskets soon to be raffled off. “We had a Civil War re-enactment over in the trees years ago and a tall fella — John Reynolds — would give the Gettysburg Address.”
It’s always been a family affair, Wolf, a longtime organizer of the 33-year-old festival, said as he reminisced.
They’ve never had a beer tent, though Circle B Winery of Elba did offer wine tastings during Saturday’s event for the first time ever, and the allure is that old friends and neighbors — ones who don’t usually have a chance to shoot the breeze — can gather for good food and live music, lawn chairs and jokes always welcome.
“I do think we had a wonderful turnout this year,” said Chairwoman Paula Trapani as she packed up tables, pausing every so often to wish a community member well, and ask how they’d enjoyed the festival and the fun. “We had a lot of vendors, and we do need to thank the Town of Pembroke for allowing us to have this event every year and thank the community for coming out. I think we had a wonderful year.”
But looking toward the future of the event, which proves a cornerstone of the Pembroke Historical Association’s annual aid — donations propping up local eighth-graders bound for the class trip to Washington, D.C., supporting area Boy Scouts in need of funding for Eagle Scout projects, helping to send veterans to visit the national World War II Memorial and filling dozens of bags of food for children who may not have enough to sustain them through the weekend — Trapani did express some worry.
“We hope to continue to do this for a time to come, but we really need younger volunteers,” Trapani said. “It’s our 33rd year, and some of our people have been doing it that long. We need help.”
Perhaps no volunteer agreed more than Wolf himself, who turned 83 on Friday, is on his third pacemaker, and is now trying his best to retire from the heavy lifting as the younger generation fills the gap.
“I can’t do a lot of this work anymore,” he said, gesturing toward the takedown of vendor tables and tents unfolding before his eyes. “It’s amazing how much strength I’ve lost over the years.”
So he’s left searching for men and women to step up to bat — and to, perhaps, even do some baking, too.
“The younger people don’t seem to bake,” Wolf said, leaving the popular desserts table — a strong source of funds for community events and initiatives — sold out by 1 p.m.
And while they’re in need of more brownies, cookies, cakes and pastries to help support the town, besides the effort that comes with cracking some eggs and whisking some sugar, joining the historical association and planning committee — which begins preparations for the year’s Brick House celebration in early March — doesn’t take much work, Wolf and Trapani said.
First, you get to judge pies — Wolf and four others had their taste of 11 varieties earlier Saturday afternoon — and you’ll be able to nosh on pizza at the monthly meetings, held the first Wednesday of the month, as you hash out ideas for the annual event.
That’s not to mention the satisfaction received from knowing you’re doing a good thing for a great cause — a feeling the strapping young lads of Boy Scout Troop 6064 know all too well.
“We could not do this without them,” Trapani said as they milled about, collecting cans and offering up coffee to patrons of the fair. “This takes a lot of people — quite a team — and they help to set up the tables, to carry the books. It really is a blessing to have them.”
And, she said, it’d be a blessing to have you, too.
Those interested in volunteering for the next year’s event need only call the Pembroke town clerk, at (585) 499-5892, to get the ball rolling.