By Michelle Mallette
It’s been three years since last Grand Forks Fall Fair, and organizers are facing the same critical need for volunteers as many other nonprofit groups. Organizers are finding that once-reliable helpers can’t step up this year, due to health issues, family demands, or in some cases because they moved away. So there’s a desperate call for volunteers for this year’s event.
All areas of the fair need helping hands, from setting up and taking down fences, stage and tables before and after the fair, to setting up the exhibit hall, to providing security and helping in the children’s games area while the Fair is underway. Volunteers are needed for various tasks, some as short as two hours, starting Monday August 29, until the Fair closes Sept. 4. Those who contribute at least four hours of their time can earn a day pass to the Fair. To help, call 250-442-2274.
The Children’s Games coordinator, Sarah Leslie, says she can’t run the games without help, because each of the six games requires supervision, and the games area operates both days. “It takes 12 people each day,” she notes. When there aren’t enough volunteers she has to close down some of the games, which is disappointing for the children.
The games are best described as good old carnival-style fun – among the six games are Beat the Buzzer, for two age groups, one called Crazy Driver, and a shooting gallery that uses nerf guns. Beat the Buzzer involves following a route without touching the sides; if you do the buzzer goes off. “It’s an old car horn,” Leslie says with a laugh. Crazy Driver has the player using a steering wheel to guide a golf ball down the road – these games are fun for all ages, and in fact, Leslie said her goal is to one day offer an adults-only evening with the games, because adults enjoy them as much as kids do.
“When I was a kid I used to play old carnival games that were fun,” Leslie recalls. Inspired by the memory, she and her husband, Rupert Oldroyd, decided to build replica games for play at the Fall Fair. They keep the games and maintain them, to ensure they are well looked after and ready for each Fair event.
As children play, they earn tokens which they can then use at a prize booth – built by Leslie and Oldroyd – to “buy” a toy. The Fall Fair buys enough toys to ensure all children leave with a toy of their choice.
“These are for kids,” Leslie says with enthusiasm. “It doesn’t matter what their background is; they get to leave with a toy and they have fun.” Asked why she and Oldroyd have devoted time and money to this, her answer is direct and from the heart. “Your community is what you make it. So if you give to your community, it grows and blossoms.”
Speaking of growing and blossoming, Kim McLellan is organizing the always popular zucchini races for children, and she is seeking zucchini donations. They can be any length, colour or shape, but the maximum diameter is four inches or 10 cms. “It’s so we can get the dowels in to get the wheels on,” she explains. The children decorate the squash and add wheels and race their creations down a special ramp. Zucchini can be dropped off at the Fairgrounds any time prior to the Fair starting Aug. 31.
Children of all ages are invited to participate in the races; races are held every time six zucchini are decorated and ready to go. In 2019 about 100 children competed, McLellan recalls. “We’re expecting more this year with so many new families,” she adds.
Grand Forks Fall Fair is at Dick Bartlett Park, behind the Recreation Centre, with the Exhibit Hall in the Curling Rink. Fair dates are Sept. 3-4. Admission is $5-$10 for a day, with weekend passes and family discounts also available.