There is a good reason that Fall Fairs have been around for over 100 years, promoting agriculture and a rural lifestyle. The further we travel from our roots, the more important that we remember them.
The 2015 Fall Fair booklet is out and that is usually a signal to those of whom the home crafts aren’t lost to get ready. For those who have never placed an entry into a Fall Fair, the booklet lists the many categories to be judged at the Fair. If you can bake a cake, you can choose from among many types of cake – or you can make them all. If you sew or work with wood or have a garden, the options are endless. Likewise if you take photographs or paint or create… Have a look through the booklet for ideas or inspiration. If that doesn’t work, look over the entries at the Fair and challenge yourself to come up with at least one entry for next year.
“It’s important to remember where these things come from,” says Jessica Clement, president of the Ashcroft & District Fall Fair for the past six years. “They’re not being passed down and we’re starting to lose the domestic crafts” that provided the food on the table and the clothes on our backs.
Fall Fairs promote and celebrate these crafts by providing demonstrations and by holding competitions to choose the best of them. Mind you, the prizes aren’t much in terms of spending power, but the First, Second and Third place ribbons say a lot to those who care about such things. And they may inspire others to try their hands at it.
The Ashcroft Fall Fair is a one-day event in September that draws in people from all over the area. A volunteer committee begins planning it in December. Clement says there are a lot of things that the BC Association of Fairs & Exhibitions (www.bcfairs.ca/) requires them to have done by January, such as the theme for the upcoming Fair.
This year, she says, the committee made it easy on themselves and started with Section A of the booklet – Field Crops, Eggs, Honey, Farm & Dairy Products. This year’s theme is Bee Inspired, and several bee-related categories have been added for this year only, such as the Bee Inspired Planter in Section D, or the Honeycakes in Section E, the Bee in My Bonnet in Section L and just “Bees” in sections O and P – art and photography.
Clement says it was harder coming up with bee-themed activities in the Kids Corner, but they’ll have at least seven. “I like to do children’s crafts that aren’t throwaway,” she says, “so we’ll be doing things like beeswax candles and bee mobiles.”
The AMOOsing Race was popular last year so this year “we’re doing the Bee Edition” she says, with 10 new challenges. The Zucchini Races are back again. There are no imposed bee requirements, but a few orange and black stripes might earn a few more points from the judges. There will also be lots of bee talks and demonstrations, and lots of honey bee displays.
There won’t be any national categories this year. Clement says the one or two entries just weren’t worth the effort made to set them up. She says everything is in a decline at the moment – they come and go. Most of the categories are shrinking. Four years ago they had to add a table for the canning entries, but last year they removed two tables. Sponsorships are down, advertising is down. Even attendance. Last year less than 500 people came to the Fair when in the past they would get 2-3,000 for the day.
“The best part of Fall Fair is learning new things related to the theme and seeing the joy on everyone’s face as they come though the doors,” says Clement. “That’s my payment for all the work.”
This is her sixth year as president of the Ashcroft & District Fall Fair Association. Although the planning committee is small, last year’s event involved about 70 volunteers – from planning to setting up to judging. “This year I’m wearing a pedometer to see how many miles I walk during setup,” she says.
She’d love to see more people coming to the Fair, more people putting entries into the Fair, grandparents passing down their knowledge.
“Family is important to the Fair,” Clement says. Families passed down their knowledge and taught the next generation. She suggests that people challenge their neighbours to enter the Fair, challenge their family – enter in a category they haven’t done before.
“I think it’s a fantastic event and the community needs it,” she says.
The committee is always looking for volunteers, she says. They don’t need to come to meetings. If someone is willing to take on a task, let her know and she’ll put you to work.