Columbus Day crept up on me this year, and although I had a busy weekend ahead, my priority was the Ashfield Fall Festival, as it has been for as long as I can remember. When I was little, I went for the elaborate face painting, sand art, win-a-goldfish game, and the “I rung the bell!” sticker that you get if you make it to the top of the tippy rope ladder. As I got older, I began to volunteer, as most of the Ashfield residents did, at the various fundraising activities around the town. I’ve bussed tables at the soup kitchen, taken tickets at the petting zoo, sold popcorn from an old-fashioned popcorn cart, diverted rain out of the tag sale tent, and even sang and danced as part of the high school’s select chorus.
The only fundraiser I’ve consistently stuck with over the years is the book sale, at which all of the books are donated by Storey and sold at ridiculously low prices. Year after year Storey’s CEO Dan Reynolds and his fellow Ashfieldians lug books out to the tables as quickly as they can, restocking the popular do-it-yourself books as they are swept up by locals and visitors who are getting ready for the baking, knitting, sewing, preserving, and gift-giving season. During lulls at the booth, I’d always take the opportunity to look at the books and marvel at the interesting craft ideas, beautiful animal photographs, mystifying gardening techniques, and delicious-sounding recipes. Every year I would come home with more and more books that I just had to have, resulting in a home that looks like the Storey Publishing library.
While setting up the booth, Dan would say something like, “Grab that pile of die-cut hardcovers.” Of course, I had no idea what he was talking about, and he’d give me a little publishing industry lesson. I’ve learned a few things over the years, but this year I was especially well informed. The years of volunteering at the book sale paid off, because I now work full time for Storey. I never would have thought that a little booth at a country fair would launch my career, but thankfully, it has.
Now I skip the games and face paint and instead rummage through the tag sale, where this year I found some great matching lamps for my apartment. Next I check out the town hall, where a variety of artisans sell their handmade crafts, such as the leaf-appliquéd mugs that were the perfect fall wedding gift for a friend. Of course, the fall festival isn’t over until I’ve had some fried dough with maple cream and perused the autumn vegetables that double as festive decorations. Back at the Storey book sale, I catch up with passersby that I see once a year, enjoy a fresh pumpkin doughnut with Dan, and proudly answer customers' questions with, “Yes, I work for Storey Publishing.”
— Alee Marsh, publicist
Photos: First and third: Melanie Jolicoeur. All others: Alee Marsh