“On the first day of Spring Bridget Graham and I had morning tea with St Andrew’s parishioner Marion Owen. We met Marion at her sun-filled Hillsborough home with a stunning panoramic view overlooking the Manukau Harbour, Onehunga and the motorway.

Celebrating Marion’s 25 year commitment to the fair we asked her how the stall began? “In 1989 My husband Eric helped run the St Andrew’s Fair and asked me what stall I would like to take on”. Marion decided to ‘take on’ the ‘Sweet Stall’ as she liked the challenge of “upping its takings” and there began 25 years of chocolate fudge making from the traditional Edmonds Cook Book recipe.

In the 1980s-1990s the Fair was spread between the old hall (now the Childhood Centre) the new hall and the garden in between. Like the other stall holders Marion ran the stall by herself until Pat Hurrell and then Pat’s daughter, Susan, joined her.

Since Marion took over, the Sweet Stall has consistently made a great return and Marion has made 30lbs, nearly 14 kilos!!! of chocolate fudge each year since. I calculate that to be a total of 350 kilos or 750lbs!

Over the years the Strawberry Fair stalls have evolved and Marion’s Sweet Stall has too. Fudge (500 containers of chocolate, and Russian fudge) has been a consistent winner but changing fashions are not just seen on the catwalk. Balloons filled with sweets were once the rage but faded out of fashion. As tastes changed hard sweet necklaces were replaced by moro bar necklaces. At their height over 100 necklaces were sold but last year under 30 as they too go out of fashion.

On the Friday before the Fair Marion’s helpers come in and pack the fudge. Presentation has been the secret to keeping up with the times. The fudge is packed in lovely boxes and on the day the sweets sit on appealing white and red gingham tablecloths. Marion thinks over the last three years people have been buying slightly less as people have become more conscious about the affects of sugar on teeth and children’s hyperactivity.

Marion observed how the morning tea area has bloomed with people queuing up for tea and scones but also wondered about how to keep people coming to our fair? Marion suggests we should continue to publicise our fair to keep the community aware.
People these days want ‘homemade’ and our Fair’s fudge, jams and pickles make us one of the few true fairs left in Aukland where you can find these.

What has kept Marion on board for 25 years? “You do these things because you want to, and I’ve got tremendous enjoyment out of it. I enjoy the atmosphere of the Fair and the comradeship. The Fair brings us together on another level of fellowship. It’s great fun and brings the community to the Church.”

Marion sums up how many of us involved in the Fair feel “We’ve had so much fun. You don’t do it for reward”. Perhaps her one regret is that being a stall holder in 25 years she has never really got to wander around the Fair herself!
From all of us at St Andrews a big “Thank you Marion” and please come wander and enjoy the fair this year.

– Jane McNamara”