PHOTOS: May Fair 2016

Scores of New Canaanites and area residents arrived at the (pesticide-free) grounds of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Saturday for the annual May Fair. Under a gray sky and scattered light rain, children and families smiled and screamed on rides, feasted on barbecue from the Holy Smokers, as well as cotton candy, strawberry shortcake, pizza from Joe’s Pizza and ice cream from Baskin Robbins, shopped at the hugely popular White Elephant tag sale and enjoyed live music from School of Rock New Canaan musicians. For the second straight year, the fair featured a “Friday Night Lights” preview prior to the traditional fair, with rides and food.

PHOTOS: 2015 May Fair

The 66th annual May Fair went off without a hitch, as a festive crowd enjoyed rides, games, food and entertainment under sunny skies on Saturday, May 9. It was also the first year fairgoers were able to experience the event under the stars, as St. Mark’s Episcopal Church presented the premiere edition of “Friday Night Lights”, which proved to be a huge hit.

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.

Did You Hear … ?

For the first time ever, May Fair will open its rides to visitors on the Friday night of the weekend that the hugely popular event runs. “Friday Night Lights” will run from 5 to 9 p.m. on May 8—featuring just the rides, a performance stage and select food vendors Baskin-Robbins, Joe’s Pizza and Chicken Joe’s—and the full, cherished annual fair running about 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. the following day, said Richard DePatie, parish administrator at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. “We’ve been talking about it, off and on, for a number of years, and weather is a factor,” DePatie told He explained that in recent years, foul weather has caused organizers to hit pause on May Fair for periods of time on the selected Saturday, and that affects how much money can be raised (the fair benefits charities through the St.

‘Doing Good’: St. Mark’s Launches Accessible Outreach Program; Open Door Shelter Is First Beneficiary

The funds that support St. Mark’s Episcopal Church’s outreach program long have come primarily from one of New Canaan’s iconic and most treasured community events: May Fair. The 500-plus volunteer effort to organize and operate May Fair is intense and weeks-long—so much so that many New Canaanites with typically demanding schedules are excluded from participating in the celebrated fundraiser, according to members of St. Mark’s Outreach Commission. And according to one commission member, Miki Porta, many perfectly wonderful volunteer opportunities—such as giving a weekend day to help build a house somewhere in the county—are equally demanding of scarce available time.