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Potential Washout Turns Out Successfully As Fete's New Venue Acts as Rain Gear

Matthew Hersh

"Have Fete, will rain" could be an unofficial mantra for Princeton's annual country fair, known as the June Fete.

For years, the Auxiliary of the University Medical Center at Princeton and other Fete organizers have been bewildered by the usual occurrence of inclement weather. But this year, Fete principals decided to take action to prevent a disappointment, and it turned out to be something of a success.

This year's 51st annual June Fete moved to the opposite banks of Lake Carnegie to Princeton Stadium, and despite the cold, (and, need we say, rain?), the weather did not stymie the event as it has in the past. The mud was minimal, the pant cuffs weren't as drenched, and the realization set in that it doesn't matter if the forecast is 58 degrees with rain, the Fete will go on.

While final numbers have not yet been determined, and Fete organizers say it is difficult to quantify the immediate net financial success of the fair, they did say the event was a success and went off without a hitch.

"I know it was a financial success," said Betsy Sands, president of the Auxiliary. She estimated the event drew about 10,000 people, adding that the rain did not deter as many people as it normally would have in previous years.

The accommodations provided by the University helped keep costs low, she added.

Wet Fetes in the past have incurred as much as $18,000 of damage to the West Windsor playing fields, according to organizers.

Like the playing fields, use of the Princeton Stadium facility was without charge, but Ms. Sands said more was saved in the new location as a result of the University providing tents and restroom facilities.

The annual Fete dance, the "Moondance," sold out with 450 tickets at a $100-minimum donation, and the Volvo raffle netted $63,000 for the benefit of the Princeton HealthCare System's new Breast Health Center. Unlike previous years, the hospital had to absorb the cost of the car purchase, but this year's Volvo was donated by Long Motor Company.

However, the "Lane of Shops," which was set up along the green suffered from the unaccommodating weather, Ms. Sands said.

The 10K race also stumbled at 417 registered runners. The race has attracted more than 600 runners in past years.

One of the main attractions at the "Rocket Fete" was the Starship 2040, a prototype created at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama that offered a glimpse of what space travel might be like in 2040.

Accompanying the exhibit was astronaut Story Musgrave, who, in addition to being a veteran of six space flights, worked for 17 years on the development of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Jody Erdman, who co-chaired the Fete with Karen Fein Kelly, said Dr. Musgrave's presentation about space exploration and the "lessons of life" was her "favorite" part of a year's worth of organizing.

"It's a year of your life, so it was very powerful," she said.

She said she would like to see the Fete take a long term residency in the stadium.

"There were some parking issues we have to iron out, but [overall], it was a good test and it worked really well," she said referring to some confusion as to how to access Lots 20 and 21 near the stadium.

Christine Calandra and Brooke Rossi have been chosen as co-chairs for the 2005 June Fete.

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