First Congregational Church of Marshfield hosts Summer Blessings Fair

MARSHFIELD – In 1894, the first year of the Summer Blessings Fair at the First Congregational Church of Marshfield, there were dirt roads meant for horse-drawn carriages and the cattle roamed on the lawn next to the site of the parish house.

On Saturday, during the 128th church fair, cars sped by on Ocean Street, past the church’s white steeple, as visitors meandered between white tents – browsing tables of homemade crafts, baked goods and plants for sale.

Despite the changing landscape, the Summer Blessings Fair has stood the test of time.

A woman is framed by a window decorated with found seashells at a booth for Seashells by Paul in Marshfield during the 128th Summer Blessings Fair at First Congregational Church of Marshfield on Saturday, July 2, 2022.

A community since the beginning

First Congregational Church of Marshfield traces its beginnings back to 1632 when it grew out of the First Church in Plymouth, which the Pilgrims established when they landed and settled in Plymouth in 1620.

Faith and local history converge at the church. The first summer fair in 1894 raised money to buy clothing for victims of forest fires in the Northwest.

This year’s fair was a fundraiser for the church fund, that pays for staff members’ salaries and upkeep of the church.

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Hanging on the wall in the parish house are framed letters signed by former United States presidents Herbert Hoover and George W. Bush that recognize the church’s 300th and 375th anniversaries.

“It’s a real privilege to be part of a historic church like this,” Mike Rydberg, a congregation member for more than 20 years, said.

Audrey Taylor of First Congregational Church points to homemade fudge she was selling at the 128th Summer Blessings Fair at the First Congregational Church of Marshfield on Saturday, July 2, 2022.

Traditions fueled by faith and loyalty

Each year congregation members volunteer and are appointed to the church fair task force to organize the festivities.

For Cheryl Strazdes, 72, has been a member of the congregation all her life, preparations for the annual fair happen all year as she works on handmade crafts to sell.

Intricately painted stones and delicate jewelry made from shells were on display at Strazdes’ table. Strazdes said she donates the money she earns to the church’s fund.

After the summer fair, Strazdes will get right to work on making goods for the annual Holiday Fair in December.

Homemade Easter eggs made by Cheryl Strazdes are for sale at the 128th Summer Blessings Fair at First Congregational Church of Marshfield on Saturday, July 2, 2022.

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Visitors to the fair wandered through aisles of donated glassware, clothing and more in the parish house’s lower level – home to the Thrift and Gift store and run by the Ladies Benevolent Society.

The group was first formed in 1848 and is the oldest social organization in Marshfield, according to a history compiled by members Josephine S. Ellis and Sarah T. Bourne.

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