Three months after The Great War (WWI) began in Europe, a group of women living around the town green in Washington, Connecticut decided to change the focus of their reading and sewing circle to an active society working to support the allied countries in Europe who were involved in this conflict. They called themselves the Sister Susies using a popular war song, “Sister Susie Sewing Shirts for Soldiers” as the inspiration for the name of their new organization.
At first the women received contributions of money and clothing from Washington residents but in the spring of 1915, they broadened their plans for fund-raising. They held card parties, encouraged the Town’s churches to take up special collections and installed donation boxes at local business sites. These efforts enabled the Society to buy necessary supplies and to send money to various war relief organizations such as the American Red Cross, American Girl’s Aid, the Polish Relief Fund and the Belgian Relief Fund. In the spring of 1916, they even undertook the support of a Belgian war orphan named Daniel Bataille.
As the war continued, the Sister Susies expanded their membership to include the entire town of Washington. Local citizens were enthusiastic and supportive and subsequent events raised additional funds. One significant bazaar called the “Allied Market” was held on the Town Green in August of 1916. It featured Sister Susie volunteers dressed in ethnic costumes of the allied nations in Europe at “farm-stands” where they sold produce, wares and trinkets native to those countries. Games, contests, food and musical entertainment were also offered to the large number of attendees.
On Sunday, August 28, 2016 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, the Gunn Historical Museum will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the “Allied Market” and, through the generous support of the Connecticut Community Foundation, recreate this historic community event held a century ago on the Washington Green.
Four farm stands representing the countries of Italy, France, Belgium and Britain will sell local fresh vegetables and fruit from Averill, Waldingfield, Kimberly, and Ox Hollow Farms with other vendors offering an additional assortment of specialty items. These will include: oils & balsamic vinegars from The Olive Oil Factory; jams, chutneys, pickles & sauces by New Preston Provisions; delicious Unsurpassed Chocolate Sauces, Anne Kelly’s home-made granolas; natural yarns and textiles from Siren’s Song Yarns & Fibers; the unique collections and accessories of La Petite Stationery; home-made, scented soaps & lotions by The Raven & The Rose; Everything Botanical’s garden plants & designs, the ceramic artistry of Bell Hill Pottery and vintage clothing & accessories from Lovely Louise.
The day’s entertainment schedule includes:
11:30 a.m. — Rick Spencer’s musical program,”To End all Wars: Songs of the First World War”
1:00 p.m. — Pie-eating contests for children, teens and adults
1:30 p.m. — Special Tug-of-War with teams from Washington town groups and businesses
2:00 p.m. — Three-legged races
2:15 p.m. — Drawing of wonderful vendor gift baskets
2:30 p.m. — Water balloon toss that will help to cool off and end the day
An old-fashioned picnic-type lunch with ice-cream and lemonade will be available for purchase throughout the afternoon.
All are welcome to attend and experience this historical event. There is no entrance fee and everyone is encouraged to dress in period costume!
The Sister Susies Allied Market will take place on Washington Green, at 6 Kirby Road in Washington, CT on August 28, 2016 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.