Fall Fair roars back to life

Fall fair in Burns Lake roars back to life

Fall fair classic makes strong return

There was a bumper crop of fun at this year’s Lakes District Fall Fair as it came back from COVID hiatus.

There have only been two fairs in the past five years, due to 2018 wildfires and the pandemic of 2020 and ’21.

So it was with heavier efforts and worried wondering that the stalwart organizing association approached this year’s restart. They were fearful the public response would be a trickle. It was a flood.

“We were all very amazed, because we didn’t know what to expect, and we felt it was one of the best we’ve ever had. It felt like people were ready to gather again, socialize and have fun,” said president Joan McFee. “It was challenging for myself and some other committee members because we were out of synch, and it took a lot more work to get it up and running.”

Many volunteers of the past were no longer involved. Sponsors, partnerships and best practices had been put on hold. Momentum was lost. New blood had to be found.

McFee said calls were made to people who might be skilled at certain important components. Nobody told her no.

Jill Peebles agreed to run the gymkhana and barrel racing.

Val Anderson stepped forward to take on the loggers’ sports.

Deanna Lambert joined the fold to set up the large livestock events while Eileen Benedict agreed to handle the small livestock.

Gwyn Nicholas returned to her role organizing the popular children’s events, John and Sandra Barth returned to arrange mainstage entertainment, and eventually every key portfolio got covered. Even some new ones got added, like an all-local motocross aerial show, miniature horse wagon rides, and more.

Some components like the home arts exhibits, commercial cattle events, and the 4-H livestock show had a reduced presence, but still there moving forward towards the fair’s future.

And the time off was used to significantly improve the site’s infrastructure. Sponsors and service providers were especially generous in the off-time, McFee said, so construction made it a better place than ever before.

All that remained was wondering if the public would attend.

“Over the past 12 years, our attendance has grown significantly,” said McFee who noted there were about 750 tickets sold in the late 2000s but up to an estimated 2,500-3,000 people this year. “So with that growth, you need services, and we have been able to do that with the support of our community.”

McFee said the new support made all the extra stress worth it.

“I feel it builds a stronger community overall. If people are helping at the fair, or enjoying themselves at the fair with their friends and neighbours, they realize they are part of something bigger. There is something to be proud of and take part in together. It builds a community. That warms my heart.”

 

Fall Fair roars back to life

Fall Fair roars back to life

Fall Fair roars back to life

Fall Fair roars back to life

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