Super Senior: Mary Fay

Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 5:37 PM EDT
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ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. (WCAX) - It’s a tradition at the Champlain Valley Fair. Precisely at 5 p.m., a parade with bands, horses... and Mary Fay.

The fair this year is celebrating a big anniversary -- 100 years. So is Fay -- 50 Years of being a 4-H leader. “There are some people -- this is the only place I see them all year,” Fay said.

The club of 23 girls focuses on horses. On this day, however, it’s public speaking. Madison Trudell of Fairfax is showing people how to make what’s called a “Corky Creation.” “You want to take your corks and lay them out -- like this,” she explained. “And you want to glue them into your picture frame.”

“Public speaking is a really, it hits my heart button because it’s such an important skill to learn,” Fay said.

Her approach with her students is no-nonsense, and no slouching is allowed.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You snapped and they came to attention.

Mary Fay: Just to get their attention. I want to think how they look to the public.

And on road trips, it’s “her way or the highway.” “We tell the kids, ‘If you’re early getting on that bus, you’re on time, if you’re on time, you’re late and if you’re late, you’re left.’ But I would never leave anyone,” she said with a laugh.

“I came into 4-H, it’s really changed my life,” Trudell said.

Fay was younger than these girls when she first joined 4-H. She grew up in Jericho with 10 brothers and sisters. “II was one of the Blades kids and when I joined 4-H and learned the leadership skills and learned I could do all these things and be a leader and be a mentor, it made me somebody,” Fay said.

Her time at the fair goes way back to visits with her dad when she was just four. “I worked it out. I think it’s 66 fairs. So, two-thirds of them,” Fay said.

Now 70, Fay still hasn’t lost her enthusiasm for the fair. “I’m the horse lady,” she said. Fifty years worth -- they’re all over the place. Everywhere I go, I meet a former 4-H’er.”

Including the horse showing area -- just a short distance from her girls -- Fay also announces during horse judging.

“It was going to rain the last Sunday we were there and my daughter said, ‘It won’t rain, Mary’s in charge,’” said Deni Racicot of Jericho.

Back inside, 14-year-old Lily Provost from Milton is also sharpening her public speaking skills. “The question was, ‘Is there any other material you can use besides corks.?’” Provost said to the assembled visitors.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You’re still watching them.

Mary Fay: I know. I can’t help it, I can’t help it.

And like the fair parade, Mary Fay marches on. “I love it,” she said. “I love it.”