State College Friends School
News and Noteworthy
A Tradition of Successful Learners
- Confident, Creative, Compassionate -
- Confident, Creative, Compassionate -
It began with a samosa, stuffed with a spicy mixture of potatoes and peas and served up piping hot. The first State College Friends School Fun Fair -- held in 1981 following the school’s opening in 1980 -- offered this tasty treat, along with paneers, masalas and daals, all spooned onto fragrant mounds of basmati rice. It was a simple affair -- home-cooked Indian food, games for kids and a garage sale. The event raised a few thousand dollars to be used by the school for scholarships.
That first year, the school was home to only ten students, each with a family that worked tirelessly to ensure the fair’s success. Today, the school serves about 100 families, and these folks are as busy as ever preparing for the Fun Fair’s 36th installment, which will be held on Saturday, May 6th, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the State College Friends School (1900 University Drive, State College). The event, which welcomes everyone from the community, will include live entertainment, food, games, prizes and more.
Thinking back to 1981, Mary Ziegler, who retired as the assistant director of the school in 2015, said the school started Fun Fair in an effort to raise money for student tuition assistance.
“We were surprised and extremely pleased with how many people attended the first fair and how much money we earned for the school,” she said, noting that the fair back then was held where the school was held -- the Friends Meeting House, which is located at 611 E. Prospect Avenue in State College.
Ziegler remembers inviting all the Friends School families over to her house afterward to celebrate the event’s success. The “after-fair party” at her house became a tradition.
“We would stay up until two o’clock in the morning singing, talking and laughing,” she said. “The children would all be asleep on the living room floor. It was wonderful.”
Ziegler recalls several moments throughout the Fun Fair’s history, however, that were not so great. For example, there were always weather-related worries.
“For several years, we had a parent involved with the school who was a meteorologist at AccuWeather,” said Ziegler. “We relied on him to give us very accurate weather predictions for fair day.”
One year, Ziegler remembers waking up on fair day to heavy rain. She called the meteorologist parent, and he assured her the rain would stop by the fair’s opening time -- ten o’clock.
“We were all soaked as we were setting up for the fair,” she said, “and the volunteers kept asking me if we were really going to go through with it. But I had confidence in our meteorologist parent, and he turned out to be right. The sun came out just in time, and it was a beautiful day.”
Then there was the year when a ferret in the petting zoo bit a child. A parent who was a physician attended to the child, who was unhurt. There was also a year when a petting zoo chicken got loose, and the children chased the bird all over the school’s playground before cornering it and capturing under a bush near the parking lot.
“The ferret was someone’s pet; we don’t do those anymore,” said Ziegler. “Fun Fair is always a little stressful because there are so many factors we can’t control,” said Ziegler. “But it’s always worth it. Everyone has fun and we earn valuable income to help students attend school.”
Ziegler notes that although the purpose of the Fun Fair was, and still is, to earn money for student financial aid, the event always has aimed to provide an affordable source of entertainment for the community. And while it has changed over time -- for example, there was a time when a plant sale and book sale were part of the event, and, of course, there was that fabulous ethnic food, which included at various times Indian, Chinese, Mexican, and Eastern European foods -- one thing remains: the devotion of the school’s families to making the fair a success.
This year, parent volunteers will serve up high-quality hot dogs courtesy of Nature’s Pantry, sausages from Fetterolf Family Farm, homemade hummus and veggie pita pockets, quinoa black bean salad, massaged kale salad and fresh fruit cups. They also will provide live music, pony rides, a bubble station, an egg drop competition and face painting, among other things -- enough entertainment to last for hours.
From ten families to 100, the State College Friends School has grown by leaps and bounds over the years, and the school’s annual Fun Fair has grown with it. And even though Ziegler no longer hosts “after-fair” parties at her home, the happy feelings acquired by all fairgoers -- from Friends School families to the greater State College community -- persist as a warm glow in their hearts, until the next year’s fun begins.