The call went out last spring for volunteers to manage the gates at the Kingston Fall Fair. Not surprisingly, the Rotarians of Seaway West were eager to support the annual event. Though the learning curve was steep, they managed well with the patience and poise for which Rotarians are known.
The Kingston Fall Fair has been in existence since 1830 and it is one of the longest running fairs in the country. The 2022 version occurred between September 15 – 18 and was the first since COVID-19 shut down the event two years ago. The volunteer coordinator and her team retired and so the Fair Board President was looking for a new volunteer team. Rotarian Darlene Clement (Kingston), who sits on the Fair Board, suggested that Rotarians might be willing to take on the task. A small committee of Rotarians met with the Fair Board executive and later agreed to take on the volunteer effort. And it was no small task! In fact, attendance at the fair was up 60% over the last pre-pandemic event (2019)!
Seaway West Rotarians were responsible for ticket sales at three gates to the fair over the four days. In addition to selling tickets, Rotarians collected and counted the proceeds and dealt with lots of questions and issues that arose. In total, there were 80 shifts, five hours each in length, that needed to be covered. Seven of the eight Seaway West clubs supplied volunteers and some volunteers were keen to take on a second shift where needed. Each shift had a designated team leader who coordinated the duties and made sure that the flow of traffic in and out of the fair ran smoothly.
In addition to serving the community, it was a great fellowship opportunity and lots of fun too. It was the first time we had to meet the many new Rotarians who have joined our clubs recently and it was so nice to participate in an important service activity. Needless to say, the Fair leaders were very impressed with the contributions of Rotarians. And it turned into an excellent fundraiser too – the Fair Board presented us with a cheque for $10,000 and asked us to do it again next year.
As you might imagine, there were lots of suggestions from our group and those changes will no doubt be applied to upcoming fall fairs. One big initiative will be restoring Education Day. It is an opportunity for local elementary students to learn about agriculture on the opening day of the fair and a small team of Rotarians has already agreed to build the program. We can’t wait for 2023!