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East Hampton is home to 116 years of tradition

Hudson Kulik, 5, of East Hampton, gobbled down

Hudson Kulik, 5, of East Hampton, gobbled down a slice of watermelon at East Hampton's 116th annual Ladies' Village Improvement Society Fair on Saturday. (July 28, 2012) Credit: Brittany Wait

It was Katie Redman’s third year, sifting through racks of vintage clothing on sale in one of the tents at the 116th annual East Hampton’s Ladies’ Village Improvement Society Fair.

“We’ve been just wandering around and enjoying the fair,” said Redman, 28, of Manhattan, as she held up a rose colored nightgown, investigating the seams. “We go everywhere on Main Street and then come here to browse.”

Saturday’s event has become the largest single summer event in the village, regularly drawing a crowd of up to 5,000.

Afton DiSunno, a member of the society, said although it rained steadily for a half hour, she estimated that about 4,000 people made it out this year.

“It’s a good time and people come out and find treasures,” DiSunno said. “They know that every bit donated will go back into the village in some way.”

The revenue from food vendors and the sale of donated items goes toward helping the society raise the funds for programs, including the $100,000 given out in local scholarships and its ongoing tree maintenance within the village.

Nancy Andrews, president of the society, said the first fair was in 1896, but held at Clinton Hall, now called Clinton Academy. It only raised $565, but had many of the same things as today.

“We try to keep it very much the same,” Andrews said. “We hear people leaving the fair say that they hope it never changes.”

Tables and tents were filled with cakes and jams, flowers, arts and crafts, local artwork and jewelry. For children, there was a petting zoo, climbing wall, carousel and face painting, cotton candy and games.

The silent auction offered more than 130 items including golf outings, resort and travel packages, art and antiques, clothing and jewelry, wine and even tickets to a Justin Bieber concert.

Barbara White moved to East Hampton 15 years ago and has been coming to the fair ever since. As an animal lover, she couldn’t help but bid on a piece of artwork depicting a yellow labrador created by local artist Laura Benjamin.

“The fair is so old-fashioned and it’s nice to see the families come out,” said White, 57. “It’s a real hometown type of thing to do.”

Shannon Kulik came with her family to check out the fair for the first time. Her 2-year-old daughter Hunter munched on a cob of corn while her 5-year-old son Hudson ate a slice of watermelon.

“It’s really sweet,” said Kulik, of East Hampton. “It keeps them busy with the pony rides and games. I really couldn’t believe that they fit this fair in this space.”

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