St. Leo’s Fair prep in full swing
STAMFORD — There wasn’t a dry eye at the site of the St. Leo Fair on Monday as food stands and rides were being set up.
The reason: about 400 pounds of onions were being peeled and cut to prepare for the 38th annual version of the fair, a fundraiser for St. Leo Parish in Stamford.
Besides the copious amount of food that needs to be prepared for the fair, the event also depends on the help of hundreds of volunteers. Fair co-chairperson Marcia Mandi estimated that about 600 volunteers help run things for the entire five-day run, which starts Tuesday.
As far as the look and feel of the fair this year, Mandi said it’ll be much like past iterations.
The fair is divided into carnival rides, game booths, and food stalls. There is no price of admission, but rides, games and food all come with a fee. From Tuesday to Thursday, visitors can buy a $28 bracelet that allows them to go on an unlimited number of rides, or pay for rides individually.
Bracelets will not be offered on Friday and Saturday nights, however.
Food options at the fair are varied, from hamburgers, fires, hotdogs, and pizza, to pasta with marinara sauce, clam chowder, and a seafood platter.
There will also be a raffle this year, with the winning ticket holder getting $35,000 in American Express gift cards.
The event is a major fundraiser for the church, which is currently looking for money to fix an aging heating system inside the parish.
Mandi started working at the fair in the late 80s, helping run the game booths. She then moved up to manning the all-American food booth, which serves burgers and fries. From there, she joined the fair’s committee in the 1990s and oversaw the food operation, before becoming a chairperson of the entire operation in the late 90s.
“My favorite part … is how everybody can pull together even when there are times of trouble,” she said.
One of the most memorable fairs was in 2011, said Mandi, when Hurricane Irene blasted the area. Before the storm hit, the fair structure was set up on a Friday. But as it became clear that a hurricane was coming, the fair rides and booths had to be taken down over the weekend.
With so few days before the opening on Tuesday, all the parishioners were asked to come down on the Monday before the fair to help build it.
Mandi was floored when she saw the crowd who volunteered to help.
“I walked outside and started crying, seeing how many people showed up to put it together,” she said. “It was absolutely phenomenal.”
St. Leo Fair is open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, and from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday. The fair is located at 24 Roxbury Road.