For those who attended the Sooke Fall Fair in September, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the celebration is generally acknowledged to be a fabulous event for the community.
In fact, the fall fair has now been judged one of the best fairs in B.C.
Last weekend, the 47-member organization, each representing a fair in their community, came together in Victoria at the B.C Association of Agricultural Fairs and Exhibitions and, when the deliberations were done, awarded the Sooke Fall Fair three of the six awards presented by the organization.
“We won for Community Engagement, the Best Supporting Business Award, and the award for the Most Effective Youth Volunteer. I can tell you we’re pretty impressed with ourselves,” said fall fair president Ellen Lewers.
“We’re the biggest little fair around.”
Lewers added that while she may be the president of the organization, the real heroes of the event are the many volunteers who give of their time and talent to make the event a success.
“This is a great, fun-filled family event and it’s a place where memories are made. Everyone has a fair story… something that happened there that they keep for a lifetime.”
For Lewers the memory involves her early years with the fair when her children wanted to bring their animals to show off at the event.
“We got a pen and my kids brought their ducks and chickens and goats. Other children, some who had never touched an animal, well, they went in there and were petting these animals and it was amazing. We still have a petting area at the fair now and a parade of animals with miniature ponies and goats and even dogs and cats. It’s so much fun, but I remember that first year more than any other,” said Lewers.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the volunteer spirit for the fall fair is how that spirit is replicated around the province, and across the country.
“We cooperate with other fairs, and they do with us. It’s like we’re a community, all trying to help each other to make all the fairs better every year,” explained Lewers.
“This year we helped out the Saanich Fair with its Island Survivors theme by supplying a lot of the decorations and prizes for their event. Other times we collaborate with other fairs, sharing what works and doesn’t work, fundraising ideas, problems with legalities, anything you can think of.”
Tom Harter, the president of the B.C. association, had nothing but praise for the Sooke fair organizers and the way they are willing to step up and help out other communities.
“All of us are always willing to share ideas and help each other to put on a successful fair. We all want everyone to be successful, and Sooke is a model of that cooperation,” said Harter.
He went on to say that many people don’t recognize the importance of a community fair to the economy of that community and for the community spirit the fairs engender.
“The fair I belong to in the Okanagan is a good example. Armstrong has a population of about 5,000 people but during the five days of the fair we have 150,000 people go through our gate,” he said.
Lewers is quick to credit the many volunteers who help her make the Sooke event possible, but pointed out that the community needs to constantly replenish their volunteer base.
“The way you keep these fairs alive is to get involved. I invite anyone with a willingness to help to contact us through our website (sookefallfair.ca) and give up a little time to make our fair even better next year,” she said.