Rain doesn't affect fall festival

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  • Sussex Christian School third-grader Caleb Kuperus, 8, of Fredon shows his alligator teeth.

  • Wantage residents Andrew Noonan, 9, Garrett Coerts, 9, Dallas Walther, 9, Noah Drew, 10, and Sonja Drew, 4, prepare for the kids' mini-tractor pull.

  • Sofia Hallak, 3, of Wantage models her blue cat-face at the Sussex Christian School's 37th annual harvest festival on Saturday.

  • Leah Esposito, 4, of Hampton won second place in her division for children of 40 pounds or younger with a distance of 4'5".

  • Chloe Esposito, 4, of Wantage holds her head high, putting the pedal to the metal, and won first place in her division.

Saturday’s rainy blues didn’t kill the mood for harvest festival-goers on Oct. 3rd at the Sussex County Fairgrounds, where the Sussex Christian School, hosted its annual autumn fundraising craft and auction event for the 37th year in a row.

An all-day event with major events beginning around 10 a.m. and lasting until ten in the evening, the festival — which offered free admission and parking — attracted an estimated 2,000 people.

The festival featured a farmer’s market, craft/vendor fair, silent auction and health fair (blood mobile) during the morning hours followed by an oral auction beginning around six in the afternoon, antique tractor show and a chicken barbeque.

According to mom and volunteer Marlene Meyers, who has two girls — 6th and 7th-graders — enrolled at the Sussex Christian School, even the students contributed by donating six baked good items to sell at the festival. Meyers is a Sussex Christian School alumna and oversaw the food-selling at the Snack Shack.

“This year’s occasion turned out to be another wonderful fall festival for the Sussex Christian School,” Meyers said. “There are so many that volunteer their time to make this day a success every year. Despite the rainy, cold weather, it was a great event for Sussex Christian School.”

“It’s an all-year, around-the-clock-planning kind of event,” explained Festival Coordinating Committee member Jennifer Kuperus.

“My family is involved with the school; they needed the help, and so here I am. It’s chilly with the rain, but as the day goes on, it gets a lot busier especially because of the vendors market and chicken BBQ. Both attractions are really popular each year, as well as the auction.”

It was her first year helping to coordinate the event.

“I extend a big thanks to my cousin, Anne Amels, owner of the florist department at Farmside Supplies, Inc.," Kuperus said. "She couldn’t be here at the festival today, but she’s a committee member who’s been involved 15 years.”

“We have a core group of 10 to 15 people that organize the different events at the festival, and countless others that volunteer throughout the day,” said Committee organizer Anne Amels. “We have students, parents, graduates, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and even students at both the Veritas Christian Academy and High Point High School that donate their time and services, not to mention the innumerable local businesses that support the Sussex Christian School.”

According to Amels, this past May, Sussex Christian School third-grader who she only identified as Anya was diagnosed Juvenile Dermatomyositis, a rare and life-threatening autoimmune diseases also known as Juvenile Myositis (JM). Approximately 2 to 4 children in a million in the United States are diagnosed with JM each year.

To bring awareness and to raise money for the cause, Anya has been painting pictures and selling them. One of her pictures was brought to the festival to be auctioned off, and it raised $5,500. Half the money will benefit the Sussex Christian School and the other half is being donated to the Cure JM Foundation™, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to finding a cure for Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM) and Juvenile Polymyositis (JPM). The mission of the foundation is to provide support for families coping with JM, raise awareness of JM and fund research that will ultimately lead to a cure.

“The Cure JM Foundation™ has existed and thrived for over ten years,” explains Amels. After the auction, Anya’s picture was donated back to be hung on the walls of the Sussex Christian School.

All proceeds raised from the event will benefit the Sussex Christian School and the education of its students.

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