Started in 1896, the Fair is one of the major sources of funding for all of our community activities.
As always, there are great booths offering exciting items, including Flowers, Local Fare, Salads & Sandwiches (great for lunch), Cakes and Jams, Vintage Clothing, Arts and Crafts, Jewelry, and more. Our two thrift shops, Bargain Box, offer clothing, household items and furniture and Bargain Books is always filled to the brim. Hot dogs, lemonade, soda and ice cream are available, and there is a BBQ from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm featuring live music. Children love Playland, with its petting zoo, giant slide, toys and clothes, balloons, face painting, cotton candy, games and a fabulous carousel. Our Silent auction features over 100 items – golf at private clubs, resort and travel packages, art and antiques, clothes and jewelry, items for home and garden, food and wine and tickets to popular concerts and events! And a recent addition, you can bid on items from the comfort of your home and track the bidding on Fair day by telephone.
Hundreds of LVIS members and other volunteers, the LVIS staff, the Lions Club, and a huge number of donations from local businesses and individuals make it all possible.
A Brief History
The first Fair in 1896 was held at Clinton Hall (now Clinton Academy) and raised $565.49. The booths sold lemonade, ice cream, cakes, flowers and “useful household articles plus fancy work.” In 1907, the first of a series of twelve LVIS cookbooks proved to be a big moneymaker. A few Fairs were held on members’ property, notably in 1912 at The Creeks on Georgica Pond. Patrons were ferried to the opposite shore for tea on another member’s lawn! In 1914 the Fair moved to the Village Green. A much enjoyed addition to the Fair were yearly fashion shows sponsored by major designers and New York shops. All the models were drawn from East Hampton. One year a full orchestra provided accompaniment.
There were two years when the Fair reflected the nation’s situation. In 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, the Ladies cancelled the Fair. Instead, a three-week “Pencil Drive” was held. A book of chances offering cash prizes sold with a pencil for fifty cents. The drawing was held at the old Edwards Theater followed by a showing of “I Cover the Waterfront.” In 1942, well into the shock of World War II, the fashion show took a war brides theme and featured inexpensive clothes from Sears Roebuck – at the finish, the bride threw her bouquet into the audience. The Farm Booth boasted chocolate, tea and coffee – all in the “shortage” category. But even though times were stark, glamour shone through – the owner of New York’s Stork Club hosted a balloon dance with prizes popping out of balloons.
The Fair moved to Mulford Farm in 1949 and stayed there until 1989. The large barn on the property allowed a new feature – arts and crafts made by local artists. In 1960, a midway was constructed for Henri Bendel’s fashion show. There was also a dance floor put up for the evening festivities. In the afternoon local children from Anita Zahn’s School danced a la Isadora Duncan.
In 1990, the Fair settled on the lawn of the Gardiner Brown House at 95 Main Street, now the LVIS Headquarters. That is where you will find the colorful booths that have graced the Fair from its beginning, plus a huge carousel whirling around gleeful children.