The parking lot of St. George’s Catholic School is quickly filling up with the makings of its annual St. George Fair, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
The fair is put on almost entirely with the help of volunteers from St. George Catholic Church, which runs the two-day event, and its school. Both church and school will split the proceeds, said Teri Cangelosi, who is organizing a list of hundreds of volunteers.
Everyone contributes according to their talents, she said, and she credits that for the success of the fair over the years.
One contributor, Stewart Couvillion, has spent the last several months creating a few unique pieces of St. George history that will be offered for sale this year.
The retired chemist and avid woodworker has spent the last decade salvaging wood from limbs or trees that would otherwise be destined for the trash or the fireplace, and using them to create decorative bowls and other objects on his lathe.
When Couvillion heard that the church would be demolishing the church’s former parsonage near the church on Kinglet Drive and cutting down a large crape myrtle tree on the lot, he asked for the wood.
“I’d never worked with crape myrtle before, so I did a lot of research, and didn’t find much,” he said.
He was pleasantly surprised by the results: chatoyance. The term, often used in both gem-cutting and woodworking, describes striations that, though smooth, produce an optical effect that appears three-dimensional and iridescent, changing as light moves across it.
Most important to Couvillion, though, is that the pieces have a story that goes back to the tree itself. Making something beautiful from any hunk of wood isn’t nearly as interesting to Couvillion as making something beautiful from a hunk of wood from a tree that has memories and history associated with it. Many of his pieces came from beloved old trees that were damaged in storms or cut down for safety.
“That’s what makes it interesting to me,” he said. He has created pieces from trees — sometimes even trimmed limbs — on the Hilltop Arboretum property, Magnolia Mound and several other places around the Baton Rouge metro area.
After creating the pieces, he donated them to St. George to be sold as part of the fundraiser. He does the same with most of his pieces.
“He’s very talented,” Cangelosi said, and Couvillion isn’t the only talented volunteer.
“We also have people with a talent for painting who volunteer to paint faces, and people who love to cook,” she said.
The fair will feature the food its attendees have come to expect, Cangelosi said. “We have some great hamburgers, corn dogs, chicken and Cajun food,” she said. In addition, there will be plenty of game booths and rides for the whole family, she said.
“We have slots for 800 volunteers, and most of them will probably be filled by the time the fair starts,” Cangelosi said. “If not, we’ll work together, and make it work. We always do, and it always turns out great.”
While they expect students and their parents to come out for the fair, and parishioners — about 3,000 people, in all — it has always been an event for the entire community, she said.
Some parking is available at the church on Kinglet Drive, just off the Siegen Lane exit. There will be additional parking in the Sam’s Club parking lot, just across Siegen Lane. A free shuttle will run continuously to and from the fairgrounds for the duration.
Don’t expect typical fair prices, though. Food plates are about $4, and most games are a dollar or less per turn.
But there will be plenty of opportunities to spend freely. The four-man bungee jump will be available this year, she said. “We tried to get it last year, but it was booked.”
In addition, several church parishioners have donated arts and crafts items, like those Couvillion created, that will be offered for sale.