BELLVILLE — One woman in the Clear Fork valley has a sightly different way of handling the Bellville Street Fair.
Though originally from here, Barbara Fishburn lived in California for a time.
She came back, at the invitation of her brother John Hecht, who told her he wasn’t feeling too well and could use some help in his shop, Rainbow’s End antiques.
She decided she likes what goes on around here, and particularly, the traffic that comes through the village during the Bellville Street Fair.
She wanted to start selling sodas and snacks at the antique store.
Starting in 2001, she decided to sell them at the fair.
Kids now call her place the “50 cent shack” because she sells chips and other snacks plus sodas at only 50 cents.
And, this year she is giving all her proceeds to the American Cancer Society because of her strong opinions about the disease.
“All I can say is, let’s put a stop to it,” Fishburn said.
Hecht has had two bouts with throat cancer. Fishburn knows other people in the area who have the disease. At her stand outside Rainbow’s end, Fishburn, known as “Marty,” is posting pictures of area people she knows have survived with cancer.
In 2001, Fishburn said she had two coolers full of sodas and sold them all. Last year she had 20 coolers, and sold everything.
She grossed $3,000 last year.
Fishburn staffs the antique store, plus is able to live nearby. She said it all gives her “something to do.”
She will tell people who come into the store “keep walking because I’ll keep talking.”
A cheerful person at age 73, Fishburn is celebrating the fact her two daughters are returning to Bellville for the fair. Both live in California.
She said she is “just a little country girl” who has been in marriages where people probably think she lived the high life. She skied in Tahoe, and one husband had a Porsche.
Fishburn originally thought she would challenge other vendors to follow her lead, and donate proceeds to cancer research. She said she has abandoned that idea because she feels it would involve too much bookkeeping work.
She said she hasn’t lectured anyone about her strong feelings. But she feels if people learn more about it, and “get angry enough,” they’ll want to do something about the disease.
Fishburn said she loves to greet people who come into the antique store, and will always ask “where are you from?”
The fair usually brings more traffic in to the store.
One woman visited, to buy an assortment of small pitchers. She told Fishburn she was still battling cancer.
Fishburn said hearing that convinces her that is why “God sent me here.”
She went through divorces in California, and then sought new things to do. She thought about becoming a nun, but they only “wanted young girls.”
She returned here at Hecht’s invitation.
She said she’s had the thought: “I could hear God whisper. I could have sent you to Africa.”
She said the fair brings 20,000 to 40,000 to Bellville. Fair visitors see what is available on the street, but can get bored so visit the shops. Fishburn talks to all about what brings them here.
Her efforts have gotten a lot of support from fair goers. Last year a man bought one can of soda, and paid her with a ten dollar bill and told her to keep the change.
The American Cancer Society is going to make a banner for her to use.
Her sales efforts at first raised some eyebrows of people. Now fair board members give her a “high five sign.”
She has ordered a supply of colored hats, which people can get for a dollar donation. There is a pin she is putting on the hats, which is multi colored.
She said she put gold stars on her stand, outside the antique store, because she believes cancer victims are stars and pilgrims.
She is hoping her effort will bring more people on board to support her effort.
“Once on board,” she said, “they’ll be on board.”