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No ‘golden elephants’ at the West West Fair

Insurance company red tape ends indoor tag sale tradition

Admission to the fair, held in the heart of the village off Westminster West Road, is free. Full details and a fair schedule can be found at

WESTMINSTER WEST—Every year since the late 1980s, tiny “downtown” Westminster West celebrates the end of summer at the Community Fair.

The festivities traditionally begin at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and a bake sale just before the adult 5K road race, and end with a talent show at 2 p.m..

In-between, fair-goers view their neighbors’ artist creations, watch a parade featuring a grand marshal and a collection of kids on bikes, chow down on chicken barbecue, stare wide-eyed at youngsters hacking away at corn cobs zipping along on roller skates, and pore through piles of bric-a-brac at the golden elephant sale.

Not this year.

Although all of the other events are still happening, the golden elephant has been set free.

The fair’s organizers recently announced “no golden elephant sale” this year.

Alison Latham, the fair’s official face painter and one of the organizers, said the Westminster Selectboard cut off access to the “Town Hall,” where the golden elephant indoor tag sale usually happens.

“Apparently their insurance company wouldn’t insure them unless certain repairs were made” to the building, Latham said in an email to The Commons.

Latham said the loss of the sale is a big loss to the event, which helps support the community’s use of the Congregational Church of Westminster West building and the community suppers held there. She said the golden elephant sale usually brings in about $1,000 each year.

It’s also a disappointment to many — those who cleaned out their attics to donate goods to the fair, those who brought home boxes of treasures from the fair, and those who did both.

“The kids loved it,” Latham said, noting, “some parents... said their kids wouldn’t probably go if there wasn’t a silent auction.”

If all goes well, the silent auction and the raffle will more than make up the difference, at least financially.

The silent auction opens at 9 a.m. and closes 15 minutes after the talent show ends — the show typically ends at about 2:45 p.m. Some of the silent auction offerings include art, crafts, furniture, gourmet foods, services, lessons, collectible items, and gift certificates or merchandise from local businesses.

“You may bid as many times as necessary, but the serious bidders hang out just before the bidding ends,” according to information provided by the event’s organizers.

Fair organizers bill the raffle as “very special.” It includes three “big ticket” items: one $250 voucher good at any Marriot Hotel in the world, a one-day ski pass and $400 gift card to Mount Snow, and a pine bench handmade by Westminster West woodworker Nick Keil. The bench, meant for the indoors, was made from wood sourced from a pine tree that was in the cemetery next to the Community Church.

Organizers are selling only 200 raffle tickets. “Better yet, you get to select which item you hope to win,” says the news release, which explains, “On the day of the fair, the ticket stubs will be put in three huge jars so you can see the popularity of the three prizes and make your choice accordingly."

This year’s fair theme is “Book It to Westminster West.” with volunteers of the Westminster West Public Library, another key institution in the small village, serving as the Grand Marshals of the annual parade.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #373 (Wednesday, September 7, 2016).

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