Huggins Hospital Aid Street Fair an annual experience to share



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VOLUNTEERS at the Huggins Hospital Street Fair garden tent last Friday morning, Aug. 5, took a moment to pose for a photograph, just minutes before the onrush of customers (l-r): standing, Priscilla Jones, Betty Ahn, Sandy Soucy, Jane Milligan, Carol Ann Duffy, Karin Hargy, and Lois Smedley; and kneeling, Susan Poirier, Bobbie Stave, and Inger Woerheide. (Elissa Paquette photo) (click for larger version)
August 11, 2011
WOLFEBORO — As 10 a.m. neared on last Friday, Aug. 5, nearly all parking spaces in downtown Wolfeboro were full, and people could be seen walking from a mile away in either direction toward a common destination the 73rd annual Huggins Hospital Street Fair on Brewster Memorial Field.

Bargain hunters, booksellers and antique dealers among them, crowded in toward the yellow tape drawn across the entrance and over by the White Elephant tents at the back of the field. Yellow shirted volunteers waited under white tents full of merchandise donated by citizens and sorted, tested and cleaned by hundreds of volunteers over the preceding months.

At last, Dan Charlton began the countdown to the opening over the loud speaker system, urging folks to take a deep breath before plunging forward to their destinations.

Within seconds, the crowd dispersed. The Men's White Elephant Tent resounded with the clanging of metal against metal as people standing elbow to elbow examined the pots and pans and appliances.

It was not a time to chat with acquaintances. Early attendees had their sights set and promises to keep for friends unable to be there for the start. A woman looking over a chair in another tent was startled by a water bottle quickly tossed in front of her, aimed for the seat. "That's mine," said a shopper, referring to the chair.

A woman headed into the women's clothing boutique stopped short when she realized the line into the tent was about 20 folks long.

At the book tent, Peg Radley helped customers as they stood in line waiting to get to the register to shorten their wait. And in the garden booth, themed gift baskets lined the back wall, and people walked out with vases full of fresh cut flowers in their arms.

The intensity abated as the day wore on, and Saturday offered a slower pace, but sales reduced the piles of clothing, the long stacks of books, sporting goods, framed art work, and plants offered for sale.

Fred Clark, a worker in the Men's White Elephant tent, said that he looks forward to seeing the same crew each year. When it's over, they don't see each other again until the next year.

That's the way it is. Stories are shared, people in yellow, including quite a few hospital staff members, come together in a common cause, showing support for their community hospital. The fair is over for 2011, but townsfolk can count on its return. That's the way it's been for 73 years.

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