Holy Smokers, May Fair Volunteers Prep for Big Day at St. Mark’s [PHOTOS, VIDEO]

The Holy Smokers—St. Mark’s men of prolonged vowels and serious barbecue—typically wait until 5 a.m. on the Thursday prior to May Fair Saturday to light the fires whose smoke will flavor their famed brisket and pork. This year, with more than 600 pounds of each, the guys—supplying their own smokers, including at least one built from scratch—lit the flames at midnight and put the first of 37 shoulders on about 90 minutes later, according to Holy Smoker and New Canaanite George Wright, a native Virginian who doubles as a coordinator with CERT, a key organization in helping May Fair run well. “We rub the first of the meat on Wednesday night and they are coming off now, most of them are off for that first turn,” Wright said Thursday afternoon from what soon will transform into the hub of the May Fair Food Court, a portable stereo playing country music nearby. “They are gong to cool down, and then we will pull them and sauce them.”

This year, visitors will enjoy the first-ever “Friday Night Lights” at the 66th annual May Fair—rides, live music and some food (pizza, burgers, dogs and ice cream “up top” on the wholly pesticide-free fairgrounds), running 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday.

May Fair Connects Community, Generations; Runs Rain or Shine Saturday

Karen Malner grew up on Parade Hill Road—a short, steep walk from St. Mark’s Episcopal Church—and each year at just this time, she and her friends had a little tradition. They’d head out on the Friday before the May Fair to check out the rides, then after a sleepover at Malner’s house, return for the fair itself. On Thursday, the 1985 New Canaan High School graduate (then Karen Corker) collected her grand nephew Dylan Laviola from school, and during the ride home they talked about the May Fair, including the boy’s fear that it would rain Saturday. So, she brought Dylan to the pesticide-free, ride-filled field at St.