By Rod Lee
Dan Carbonneau had at least two reasons to smile as he moved around the Oxford Town Common the morning of August 24th.
First, the weather a month before the arrival of fall was ideal for St. Roch Parish’s third annual Flea Market & Vendor Fair. Sunny and pleasant. Second, tables set up from front to back were brimming with glassware, books, furniture, paintings and collectibles and drawing a lot of interest from early arrivals.
Bob Richard, in from Ft. Myers, where he lives, was certainly pleased as he waved for assistance after picking out two John Sandford novels. “My wife Alice is over there,” Mr. Richard said, pointing to a nearby table that the former Alice Anderson (who wrote a column for the Telegram & Gazette before retiring) was working. “She said ʽ[the books] are paid for, go and get them.’”
“We’ve had great weather all three years” of the event, Mr. Carbonneau said. This, he said, partly explains why participation by vendors has more than tripled, from ten in 2017 to thirty-two this year.
Founded in 1888 and thus a vital presence in the community for well over a century, St. Roch initated the Flea Market & Vendor Fair after a Festival the church hosts at the end of June was dampened by rain. A busy parish, St. Roch’s activities and programs include, in addition to masses, confessions and confirmations, such ingredients as Vacation Bible School, Adult Ed, “Formed” (an online gateway to books, videos, movies, audios and more as a way to deepen one’s Catholic faith) and “Vital 3.0” (outreach to youth and young adults developed by Chicago-based Cultivation Ministries and utilized through auspices of the Worcester Diocese).
“We had all this stuff left over and Fr. (Michael) Roy said go ahead” with a plan to use it in this fashion,” Mr. Carbonneau said. “We had the experience and all of the money goes back to the church. All of the items are donated by parishioners today and for a Harvest Fair we have at the church in November.”
Scanning the scene, Mr. Carbonneau said “it’s amazing how much merchandise has been walked out already (it was only 11:30 and the sale was scheduled to run until 3:00 p.m.) and people know about what they want to pay, for lighting poles, for eight tracks, you name it. We take six weeks to price everything out and then we load the trailer up.”
Mr. Carbonneau credited parishioners Arlene Gionet, Julie Maisley and Jo Ann Cutting with “all of the pricing” that made for a quick sale of much of the inventory.
The atmosphere was festive and featured a certain amount of conviviality, as for instance when Ms. Cutting, accepting money from a patron, said, jokingly, “you’re bought for nine dollars!”
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.