For the 25th year, Christ Lutheran Church in Wantagh has given back to local and national charities after raising money at its annual country fair.
This year, the church hosted the fair on Sept. 24 and 25. At 9 a.m., church members and volunteers opened the outdoor and indoor market for customers to peruse.
Outside the church, tables were set up with bags, jewelry, shoes and more for sale. The community donated all items over the past four or five months. There was a section filled with household items and furniture as well.
The church thrift shop also had its own section of the fair, where clothes and other items were on display for people to look at and buy. The church-run thrift shop, which has been in operation for over 13 years, is open every Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In the basement of the church, tables were covered with crafts made by church and community members. There were also homemade gift baskets, which could be won through raffle drawings. Donated Christmas items like wreaths, ornaments and more could be spotted for sale at other tables.
“I love supporting this church,” Laura Musillo of Seaford said. “I’m a regular at the church thrift shop and I love getting to talk to everyone.”
Fair coordinator Lilly Ann Munnich said the church keep its donated items in multiple sheds throughout the year. Saturday is usually their busiest day of the festival. As many as 400 to 500 shoppers have appeared during the festival in past years, she said.
Munnich said that her, Barbara Rath and Regina Coons had been preparing for the fair since the weekend before. “Regina does all of the raffles baskets,” Munnich explained. “She starts really early on because it takes a long time to put those together.” There were 50 raffle baskets this year, but the church has offered up over 80 in past years.
All of the money collected during the two-day fair is used for the church and split between several charities including nearby Interfaith Nutrition Network in Hempstead and Tunnel to Towers Foundation in Staten Island, and national groups like Lutheran Disaster Relief Fund and nonprofit United Service Organizations.
“Last year we didn’t raise as much because the fair was much smaller due to Covid,” Munnich said. “But in recent years, we’ve raised $6,000.”
About a third of donations are split between the four charities. The rest of the money is used to upgrade the church or implement new doors, sound systems and more through the building.
“The money for the church is always used for something concrete,” she said. “It’s used for changes the congregation can see, not for things like bills.”
Saturday’s are typically the busier day of the festival, since many come for the annual “Cookie Walk.” Hundreds of homemade cookies were up for grabs this year. Small containers were $5, and larger containers were $9. Most of the cookies were sold by noon, just three hours after the fair started. The cookie sale typically raises around $600 for the church, Munnich said.
“My family and I have been coming here for 7 or 8 years and the ladies who make the cookies work with my mom,” Teresa Jusino of West Babylon said. “We love the auction and the cookies. I also get so much great stuff from the thrift shop.”
Christ Lutheran Church has been open for 96 years. The country fair is just one part of the church that makes a big impact on its parishioners.
“I love this fair because it brings everyone together,” Munnich said. “Over time, you become friends with the community and everyone who comes here.”