AUBURN — St. Dominic Academy held its 16th annual Holiday Festival with more than 80 vendors greeting over 600 community members before noon on Saturday.

Festival communications manager Nicole Adams and vendors organizer Heather Burgess said this year’s festival was especially exciting for everyone involved because it will be the first one since the beginning of the pandemic that will not have any COVID-19 restrictions.

“It’s fantastic to have the community coming back in and seeing the student body come out to help, the parents, the families,” said Adams. “Everybody’s volunteering today which is incredible.

“The money earned helps, it goes toward scholarships and tuition assistance for families who need it. I love it. I love it enough that I do this one and I also organize Edward Little’s which is in two weeks.”

Burgess has overseen organizing vendors and crafters for seven years and she said most are excited to get their foot in the door and stay. Baker Theresa Kates of Mama G’s Homemade Baked Goods said she has waited for years to get a table at the festival because it is so desirable for crafters and sellers.

“I got the call Thursday that I was able to get in and I am so happy that I’m here,” said Kates. “I do all kinds of baked goods, but I’m doing the fudge for this fair … I have 11 varieties here today.”


Bowie Brown pulls on the hand of her aunt, Holly Brown, as she wants to check out another table Saturday morning at the 16th annual Holiday Festival at Saint Dominic Academy in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Sandi Godin and daughter Amy Vaillancourt have been with the festival “since the beginning.” Godin said the duo began making jewelry nearly 20 years ago and got their start as an activity Vaillancourt could jump into when her husband was deployed to Iraq. Godin said it’s the people who keep her coming back every year.

“We got affiliated with St. Joe’s which was the spot even before this was here. We kept going by word of mouth … (and) actually started at St. Mary’s out in Sabattus. It led us to here and we just love the atmosphere and getting to see the neighbors who live in your area. I love the people who run it, too. It’s fun and we enjoy it so much.”

Mary Ruff has been bringing her Rumford-based Maine Granite Gifts to the festival for five years and she said she also enjoys watching the community come out for it. Ruff said she also likes that the students get involved helping vendors move stuff around, serving food and helping direct people. “It’s just a blessing when I come to this fair. Everybody is so festive and it’s just wonderful that the students help out. I love that. It’s really nice that they do. I enjoy this fair. It’s fun.”

Class of 2027 eighth grader Ryan Manson is one such student. He has been volunteering for three years and he said he ends up roping friends into volunteering every year. Manson said he also enjoys seeing everybody come together. “It’s great for the school to be able to host the event. It generates a lot of money for students and the boosters.”

Emcee Dennis Russell said dozens of students like Manson deserve credit for how smooth the festival has been this year. Russell is a part of St. Dom’s Boosters Club which is in its fourth year holding a Festival of Trees.

“The biggest thing we really want people to know is that this is a great family event. There are obviously a whole variety of tables, raffles, food, Santa shows up, so it’s a wonderful family-based event that anyone can come and enjoy from anywhere in the area.”

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