Grant allows Ashcroft Fall Fair to waive admission fee

Admission by donation will hopefully boost attendance at the Ashcroft Fall Fair, which started almost 130 years ago.

The Ashcroft and District Fall Fair Association has received a grant of $4,000 from the B.C. government’s community gaming grant program.

“It’s awesome that we got the full amount we applied for,” says Jessica Clement, president of the Fall Fair Association. “It’s a big thing, as this will let us have admission to the fair by donation for the first time.”

Clement says that attendance at the fair has been steadily decreasing in recent years. In 2012 there were more than 1,000 attendees; a figure which had dropped to 500 for the 2015 fair. “We had a lot of people complain about the admission price [$5.00 for adults, $3.00 for students] last year for the first time. Having admission by donation will make the fair accessible to everyone, and we hope it will increase attendance.”

Another change this year is that the fall fair booklet will not contain ads. Instead, the Fall Fair Association asked those who would usually have advertized to dedicate the money to sponsoring prizes in different categories.

“Most of the advertisers put most of what they would have spent on ads into sponsorship,” says Clement. One result is that this year, every section will have a top prize of $50.00. Categories are designed for those of all ages, and include arts, crafts, photography, produce, flowers, baking, jams and preserves, and much more. “We hope this will get more people interested in entering something.”

The theme of this year’s event is “Come veg out at the Ashcroft Fall Fair”, and it takes place on Sunday, September 11 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. In addition to vendor and community group displays, concessions, music, and entertainment, this year’s fair will see the Kids’ Corner turned into an “AGtivity Centre” that is open to everyone. Clement also hopes to have a repeat of the successful “AMOOzing Race” that was held during the 2014 fair. The race sees teams of two following a trail of clues around Ashcroft and completing challenges along the way.

“We need 10 adults to run the race,” says Clement. Anyone interested in volunteering can e-mail ashcroftfallfair@gmail.com.

The Ashcroft Fall Fair began life in 1888 as the Exhibition of the Inland Agriculture Association, with the first fair being held in Kamloops. In 1889 the first fall fair was held in Ashcroft, and it quickly became an important part of the town’s social calendar. At the 1897 fair, brass bands came from Kamloops and Lillooet, and the 1917 fair raised more than $2,600 ($61,000 in today’s money) for the Red Cross’s war efforts.

Clement hopes that more prizes for entries this year, and making attendance by donation, will result in more people coming out to enjoy the fair than came in 2015.

“If only 500 people come this year, then there won’t be a fall fair next year.”