Like Christmas carols on the radio, church fairs are an early indication that the holidays are coming.
Today and for the next few weeks, churches and other nonprofits across the North Shore will be selling crafts and home-baked goods, gifts, wreaths, Christmas greens and seasonal decorations.
In most cases they will also be serving lunches and snacks featuring traditional recipes and menu items that have become local favorites over the years.
“We have always had haddock chowder,” said Barbara French, who organizes the fair at Calvary Episcopal Church in Danvers. “We do quiches, homemade chili, apple pie and pumpkin pie for dessert.”
Calvary is merging with St. Paul’s of Peabody to form All Saints Episcopal Church of the North Shore, and this season’s fair has grown in size to reflect that addition.
“Because this is going to be our last one (as Calvary), I’ve increased it twofold,” French said. “I’m hoping this would be a combination of ‘last hurrah’ and ‘come see us now.’ We’ve had a lot of interest because of the merger, and it’s a good way for (people) to come see us.”
The money raised goes to the church’s operational budget, but also to help fund charitable events, such as a Christmas party for foster children on the North Shore.
At St. John Lutheran Church in Peabody, the fair has always been held on the first or second Saturday of November, and features a Finnish sweetbread called nisu.
“I grew up in the church, and my mother was Finnish. The Finnish women have passed it down to their children,” said Linda Phyles, whose husband, the Rev. Raymond Phyles, recently retired as pastor of the church. “It’s a braided loaf, covered with butter and sugar.”
Phyles works with the church women’s group to organize the fair, and they will take orders for nisu at a table today.