Annual Holly Berry Fair keeps holiday traditions going in Phillipston

  • James Hendley, 4, and his sister Giuliana, 7, of Phillipston share their Christmas wishes with Santa Claus during Saturday's fair. ATHOL DAILY NEWS/GREG VINE

  • Sharon Brooks is joined by Santa at the annual Holly Berry Fair in Phillipston. Brooks and DeVault are both active in their respective Lions clubs. The Phillipston Lions Club sponsored Saturday's event, organized by Marilyn Holway. ATHOL DAILY NEWS/GREG VINE

  • Jack and Colleen Seamon of Phillipston's HoneyMoon Hill Bees were among the vendors at the Holly Berry Fair in Phillipston. ATHOL DAILY NEWS/GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 12/9/2019 7:56:16 PM
Modified: 12/9/2019 7:56:12 PM

PHILLIPSTON – The basement of the Phillipston Congregational Church was the site Saturday of a tradition carried on in communities throughout New England at this time of year. People gathered for the annual Holly Berry Fair, which featured a number of unique items for sale, tasty food, a “coffee can auction,” and — for the kids — a chance to visit with Santa.

The event was sponsored by the Phillipston Lions Club, with proceeds to be split between the Lions and the church.

Among those on hand for the event was Sharon Brooks of Worcester, who was offering a wide variety of crocheted items for sale. Brooks, in addition to being accomplished at the art of crocheting, has long been involved with the Lions Club.

Brooks said she first joined the Lions when its membership was opened to women in 1986. She served as Lions Council chair for Multiple District 33 – essentially for all Lions in the Commonwealth – from 2009 to 2010 – and was the first woman to serve as district governor in the state.

While she does much of her crocheting at home, Brooks said she also practices her craft during visits to her husband, Albert, who is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, at St. Mary Health Care Center in Worcester.

“I go there to visit him, to aggravate him,” she said with a smile. “I do a lot of crocheting while I visit. I also sell my items at a Christmas fair they have at the nursing home. A portion of the sale goes to the residents’ Christmas fund, which is used to buy presents for the residents.”

Twenty-percent of Brooks’ sales at the Holly Berry Fair, and similar events around the region, go to the Lions Eye Research Fund. She uses the rest to purchase her crocheting supplies.

The Santa Claus who visited Phillipston Saturday was portrayed by Tim DeVault, a member of the Athol Lions Club. He said he’s been appearing as Santa for 10 or 15 years, visiting events all over the state. While booked for only three such events this year, DeVault says he has done as many as seven during the Christmas season. Last year, he served as district governor of Lions District 33A, comprised of 47 local Lions organizations.

Colleen and Jack Seamon of Phillipston’s HoneyMoon Hill Bees also spent part of their Saturday at the Holly Berry Fair. Colleen said HoneyMoon Hill started as a hobby and quickly developed into a side business. The Seamons currently tend to a total of 10 hives, and the couple can be seen selling their bees’ product at local fairs and festivals throughout the year. Jack is retired from Starrett’s, while Colleen works as a nurse with UMass Medical.

“We both work on this, but she’s the queen bee,” Jack joked.

In addition to vendors, auctions, and Santa Claus, the fair also featured a Lions-organized lunch featuring three kinds of soup, chili, loaded baked potatoes, and gingerbread with whipped cream.

While cold temperatures dipped lower by a persistent breeze, the basement of the Congregational Church provided visitors to the fair with plenty of warmth, not as much from the church’s heating system as from the camaraderie of friends and neighbors gathered together to support two good causes.

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