By Christine Galeone, Contributing Writer
Grafton – What’s better than the aroma of a warm apple pie on a crisp autumn day? How about the aroma of 275 of them? For Caroline “Carrie” Peacock, co-chair – along with her husband, Craig – of the 36th annual Harvest Fair and Apple Pie Social, it’s definitely the latter. On September 26, the Congregational Church of Grafton’s free fair offered music, food, raffles, games, antiques and lots of apple pie to the Grafton Common. Peacock, a church member, said the fundraiser is a “labor of love” and also brings camaraderie to the congregation and the community.
Peacock said what started out as a few women from the church sharing apple pies during the Christmas season has “grown into one of the bigger events on the common every year.”
Estimating that about 2,000 people attend, she said organizing and holding the event requires the efforts of more than 100 volunteers across about 10 different committees. While Peacock said her husband oversees all areas, she is focused on overseeing the apple pie baking; consequently, Sunday school children refer to her as the “apple pie lady.”
Several workshops are held at the church to assemble the pies – which contain fresh apples and homemade crusts. Volunteers from the church and organizations, such as Grafton High School’s National Honor Society chapter, Operation Friendship of Grafton and Girl Scouts, come together to make the delicious desserts. Some groups wash the apples. Other volunteers peel them, while some roll out the crusts. The collaboration results in the many pies that are frozen until being baked the day before the event. In addition to the abundance of church-made pies, Peacock said there were other highlights. They included a dunk tank, a bounce house and plenty of games for kids. For antique lovers, there was a chance to buy “attic treasures” as well as an opportunity to bid on more expensive items during a silent auction. And with live music from The Kelly Clark Jazz Band and singing from the Whitinsville Christian School acapella group, there was something for music lovers, too. Church volunteers – who wore red t-shirts – cooked and sold food, such as corn chowder, chili and hamburgers.
The church pastor, Reverend Jane Willan, and her husband, Don, created “walking tacos” for the fair. A mixture of chili, cheese and Fritos in a bag with a fork.
The pastor calls the event a “highpoint” of the year.
“At the Congregational Church of Grafton, we like our church to be a hub of community activity, which is why we are the current home of Apple Tree Arts, Simple Church, several thriving Scout troops and many other activities that pull from the community around us,” said Willan. “The Harvest Fair is one more time when we can bring the community to us, reaching out with games, music and much, much more.”
The church reaches out in other ways as well. Although 90 percent of the fair proceeds will help the church with important accessibility renovations, maintenance and energy costs, it sets aside 10 percent for charities and missions. They include Operation Friendship, Dismas House and Interfaith Hospitality Network Shelter in Worcester.
“Showing our love for each other and the community is our biggest thing,” said Peacock. “It brings people to the common to share food and fun. And we love that we make that happen.”