Over twenty five years ago, the members of the English Church in Andorra, who mainly lived in and around La Massana, started to hold a Christmas Fair. It gradually grew and many members of the international community who were not members of the church joined in. The Christmas Fair set out to raise funds both for the church and for local charities. Over time the helpers who did not belong to the church wanted more money to go to charity and as from 2008 all funds raised have gone to charity. Three years ago the International Club took over responsibility for acting as the sponsor and organizer of what had now been known for many years in Catalan as the Fira Benèfica de Nadal (the Christmas Charity Fair).
Which finally bring us to the present day and the Fira Benèfica for 2016 held on November 27 at La Closeta, the parish community halls, in La Massana, and to the special lunch provided by Susan and Michael Payne on Saturday November 26, for which the Club provided a welcome glass of cava for all those who attended.
The Fira on Sunday lasts for only five hours, but many, many more hours go into preparing for it, as the halls are decorated (a total of 600 balloons were used this year, among many other things). La Boutique offers new and nearly new clothing – and takes many hours of careful review of the clothing offered to us to make minor repairs and then to set out the wide range of merchandise. La Boutique is the favourite area for many local ladies and their daughters to seek bargains. The Gifts stall offers a wide range of donated ornaments and things in general, all of which require collecting, pricing, organizing. The Sant Jordi Café offers a full Sunday lunch, expertly catered by chef Jose Reyna of the Hotel Montané and served by a team of volunteers assembled by Jan Hardie. All in all there are so many helpers needed and so much community spirit shown that the mayor of La Massana takes us as an example of what should be happening in his parish.
Suddenly, it is time to close up shop and the volunteers take down what had taken many hours to put up in record time, and then gather round to hear how much money has been taken and take a glass of cava to celebrate the day. Over 16,000 was taken between the Grand Raffle and the Fira itself, and after expenses incurred that will leave about 13,500 to be donated to local charities.