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Community Congregates at 104th Nutmeg Festival

The annual St. Stephen's event draws a crowd.

Under a blue, sun-filled sky Saturday, Ridgefielders came out to peruse vendor wares and enjoy old-fashioned family entertainment at St. Stephen's 104th Nutmeg Festival.

The Nutmeg Festival is an event held annually to raise funds for charity, both internationally and locally. Beginning in 1906 as an apron-and-cake sale by the Ladies Guild, the fair still has an old-town feel with church members selling handmade aprons, crafts and jewelry.  Also for sale were fresh baked pies and cookies as well as fresh farm-picked vegetables.

St. Stephen's Reverend Mark Delcuze mingled with fair-goers and blended in with the crowd, sans collar, wearing a Nutmeg Festival T-shirt and baseball cap. Delcuze said that the church "is all about the community" and is grateful that all proceeds from the funds raised go to help missions.

"The raffle is going to benefit Haiti, and 100 percent of all proceeds go to help other worldwide charities," Delcuze said.

Patrick Misciagna was busy kneading and frying dough at his popular booth.

"I have been a member here for 15 years," Misciagna said. "We've been running this booth for about three years; we buy the dough from Genoa's. We love it," he laughed.

"The dough seems to get bigger and bigger as the day progresses," he joked. Other booths followed suit later in the day, holding a half-price sale so as not to get stuck with leftovers.

Yelena Perevokina had a line of children at her tent waiting to have their faces and arms painted. Perevokina came from New York City to help out her family, who attends the church.

The Weir children of New Fairfield heard about the fair from their grandmother, Virginia Bailey, of South Salem, NY. 

"I got a heart with sparkles, see?" said six-year-old Allison Weir, showing off her freshly painted cheek.

"I'm getting a pink flower on my arm," her four-year-old little sister, Courtney, yelled from the chair.

Children's magician Ben Nemzer entertained kids with balloon animals and a special magic show. He said the church found him through an online search, and now each year he makes the journey from the city into Ridgefield to please his little fans.

The free event also featured The Catoonah Street Jazz & Blues Society Band. Their Dixieland tunes were the perfect musical backdrop to this old-fashioned country fair. A couple sprang to their feet during one number, making for lively entertainment. 

Other booths featured children's games, mini golf, and a "Spin 'n' Win" game. Manning this old-fashioned Post Office booth was young Andrea Bernhardt, who played the part of an early 1900s circus vendor. She invited people to "step right up and win a prize! Only two dollars will get you a bag of treasures from around the world!"

Another announcer, festival emcee Rob Kinnaird, competed with Bernhardt for airtime. With a White Elephant sale, an art show, a magic show and raffles going on throughout the day, Kinnaird kept busy encouraging attendees to experience all the fair had to offer.

The biggest raffle prizes of the day were "His and Hers iPads," a ruby and sapphire ring valued at over $1,600 donated by Craig's Jewelers and a Weber grill from Ridgefield Hardware.

There was also a silent auction, whose proceeds are going to the church's outreach projects, many locally based.

"We all care for each other and our community," Delcuze said.

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