TOWNSHEND -- Asked to sum up this year's Grace Cottage Fair, Stan Holt puts it this way: "I think it was a good day."
That might be a bit of an understatement for a one-day event that grossed more than $70,000. Organizers expect that, when expenses are paid, about $50,000 in fair-day proceeds will benefit Grace Cottage Hospital directly.
Holt has been chairing the event for 13 years, but he chose to spread around the credit for a successful fund-raiser that is put on each year by Grace Cottage Hospital Auxiliary.
"It was just a good year," Holt said. "It's kind of amazing, the volunteers we get."
The 63rd annual Grace Cottage Fair Day was held Aug. 3 on Townshend Common. While last year's event was hampered by oppressively high temperatures, organizers and attendees caught a break on the weather this year.
"Everybody was commenting on the weather," Holt said. "They were comparing it to last year -- all the booth chairs were saying there were a lot more people around."
"And they stayed," he added.
That led to much better food sales, with Holt noting in particular that the fried dough sold out.
"Last year, there was a lot left over," he said.
Fair Day's big money-maker -- an auction featuring a wide array of donated items including big-ticket offerings like a car and a fishing boat -- also went well.
Holt singled out Kit Martin and Art Monette of the Townshend Auction Gallery for running that event.
"They give that whole day up," he said.
There were plenty of other things to do that day on the common, however. Fair Day included a Grace Cottage birthday parade for those who were born at the hospital as well as activities for children, circus-arts demonstrations, bingo, pony rides, music, a dunking booth, a chicken dinner and more than 20 bargain booths.
"That holds them there longer -- the diversification," Holt said.
Some small-town fairs are struggling to attract patrons: Holt noted that the Windsor County Agricultural Fair was dissolved this year, with organizers citing "waning interest" in what would have been the event's 40th year at Barlow's Field in Springfield.
That's not the case in Townshend, where attendance and volunteer staffing remains strong for each edition of Grace Cottage Fair Day.
"We're very fortunate to have the volunteer base that we do," Holt said.
Organizers and hospital administrators plan a wrap-up meeting for Fair Day later this month. It's not yet been determined what projects Fair Day proceeds will fund, but a spokeswoman said the money will go toward "a critical need" at the Grafton Road facility, which is Vermont's smallest hospital.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.