Grange fair keeps roots alive

May 11, 2024

MIDDLEBORO — For Shawn Gaudette and her sisters, the South Middleboro Grange Spring Fair is part of keeping a family legacy alive.

The spring fair, held Saturday, May 11 at the South Middleboro Grange Hall, is one of the several annual events hosted by the Grange, a non-profit organization founded in 1873 to help farmers protect their agricultural lands. In addition to the spring fair, the organization holds an agricultural fair in August, an annual turkey dinner and a Christmas fair. 

All proceeds go towards the Grange and pay for “keeping the lights on,” said Gaudette, who is a long-time member of the Grange.

At the spring fair, 25 vendors came out to sell an array of goods from soaps to tumblers with custom designs to comic books. Among them were members and non-members. 

Grange President Paula Goodwin said these events are crucial in keeping the Grange running because of the visibility they give to the organization. “They give us some exposure to Middleboro and other towns and let [people] know that we’re still around,” she said, adding that “hopefully [they] will get people interested … [to] come and join us.” 

Shawn Gaudette became a member of the Grange when she was a year old and remains one 50 years later. Her sister Eliza Stuart is also a lifelong member and her other sister, Sandra Jefferson, has been a part of the organization for 38 years. 

They are the fifth generation in their family to be a part of the Grange. And they have carried on the tradition to their children and children’s children. Stuart said that her daughters joined because “it was a given. They did it because their grandparents did it and because I did.”

Gaudette recalls how thrilled her parents were when her nieces became a part of the Grange. “You should have seen my mother and father when they joined. The smiles on their faces probably went up to heaven.”

Vendors came out this Saturday to sell their goods and support a cause that matters to them. 

Rose Marie Monahan, who helps run her husband’s custom crafts business, saw the fair as a cost-effective marketing opportunity. “I’m trying to get my name out more. It wasn’t that expensive so I thought if I didn’t sell a lot I could at least break even.”

Outside the Grange’s historic hall, artist Rebeckah Zora was selling her comic books. She came out to showcase her work, but also because supporting local farmers associations is something near and dear to her heart. 

“I’m an artist so I do these markets to try to get my work out there and build an audience,” said Zora. 

She and her family belong to the Rochester Grange and the regional Sippican Pomona Grange.

At the South Middleboro Grange, it’s all about community, said Gaudette. “Anybody can join,” she said, whether or not they know how to tend a garden. 

She is living proof of that. “I have a black thumb,” she noted.