2014 - Castle Fair
Recollections of the C Fair
By Blair Charles
Saturday 6th September was yet another special day for St Mary’s, for it was the day of the annual Castle Fair. People arriving in their hundreds enjoyed both beautiful weather and a church fair of professional quality. Probably none of them realized it was all put together and run by willing volunteer chapel members, their families and friends. Most of these willing volunteers had also worked hard all Friday preparing everything. A fair of such high quality would just not be possible without all these dedicated willing helpers. Here are the recollections of some of those willing workers who toiled away, yet at the same time managed to have great fun, maintaining St Mary's tradition of being a happy chapel.
The Fair at Weldam Castle is always a special event, noting the amount of organization in setting up the Fair is quite a feat − done so professionally that one can only admire the Fair Committee's work. Saturday's visitors were again spoilt for choice, with beautiful stalls offering creative wares of high standard and impeccable taste. The gardens were exquisite, the Tearoom most welcoming. It was well stocked by a wide variety of home-baked goodies prepared by numerous, willing and able bakers.
One would certainly be impressed by the number of people who came in to do their “duty” from early morning on. In the Tearoom and kitchen, many helping hands prepared the rolls using a system perfected for the second year running. The variety of cakes brought in was superb and of excellent quality. As soon as the gate was open, visitors rushed to the Tearoom for refreshments. Able volunteers made sure there was a seemingly endless supply of coffee and tea waiting. Eager hosts appeared to be pouring drinks forever, while others cut cakes at a high speed. Not forgetting the dishwashers, whose speed was just as amazing. No sooner did the dirty dishes and cups enter the dishwashers' domain, then they were taken care of. The seats on the terrace were filled most of the day. The Tearoom and all the staff was one of a kind. Unique! Hard work, but very good fun.
St Mary's arty antipodean Pauline had her art displayed this year in the Tearoom. Beautiful colours brightened up the walls and the “Affordable Art” saw three of her pieces go to very happy recipients. She took on the new role this year of “Trolley Dolly”. She was ably assisted by the handsome Matthijs (her words), looking very much the part of the professional waiter. Wheeling the new, cleverly contrapted, refreshment trolley, the two of them were able to serve coffee and tea to all the stallholders with ease. Loads of fun ensued along with many an appreciative “thank you” being received.
The Church Stand, manned by Brenda and Theda were giving out lots of information about the Anglican Church and St Mary's Chapel. Brenda noted how surprised she was by how many people, often local to the area, did not know of the services at St Mary's Chapel.
Entertaiment was again very much present this year. The Highland Regiment opened the Fair at 11:00 hrs with a March to the entrance, welcoming the guests with their distinctive music. In the forecourt the Morris Dancers also performed several showdances in their traditional style. The gaps were filled by the 3 J's with jazzy / klezmer style music. In the easterly gardens of the Estate new events like a dog show and a fencing demonstration were shown.
Louw, present in the chapel for a large part of the day, did welcome visitors and gave them information if they so wished. Some visitors preferred simply to light a candle, sit quietly for a while, to reflect, maybe to pray, listen to the music, or just enjoy the wonderful atmosphere of the chapel. The majority though really showed an interest in the chapel. Louw was pleased to talk about the building and the Anglican Church in the East Netherlands. Often people were amazed to learn the chapel was designed by an English architect. An architect who more than a hundred years ago could never have dreamt that his English-style village church in the Netherlands would ever serve an Anglican congregation. Louw took great pleasure in pointing out the various English characteristics of the building. Visitors were equally surprised on learning that St Mary's is very much a regional church, with an English service held every Sunday morning. Louw recounted how, when he told them that one of the most precious aspects of this church is, that is home to both Protestants of all denominations and Roman Catholics, without either of the two dominating, reactions range from "That is wonderful" to "That is how it should be ...."
Noticeably, a good many visitors arrived at the chapel by 3:00 pm, specifically to attend Evensong. The 80 or so congregation filled the chapel nicely. Two hymns were sung with gusto and all did their best at the sung responses.The Chaplain, Alja in full vestments, presided over the usual programme of Magnificat, Gospel reading, Nunc Dimittis and Creed with warmth and understanding.
The Castle Fair is more than just a means to raise funds for St Mary's. Naturally, the money raised is vital. More importantly, the Castle Fair is an opportunity for the scattered congregation to come together for a day, working and getting to know each other. In management speak, team building and bonding. It is in addition a time for the congregation to be loud and proud about being part of St Mary's. A time for Weldam Chaplaincy to tell the East Netherlands that an Anglican Church is in their midst and is open to Christians of all denominations and nationalities, were all services are conducted according to the laws and practices of the Church of England.
Right at the end of the day the glorious sunshine departed to be replaced by torrential rain. At this time our traditional Songs of Praise was being held inside the Tearoom.
In closing, please remember with gratitude that the Castle Fair is only possible because of the generosity of Count Alfred and Countess Christina in allowing St Mary's the use of the Castle grounds.