It’s taken weeks and weeks of preparation but the 2014 Fall Fair has finally come together. It’s especially hard to believe given that one short week ago, the bustling fairgrounds were dusty and abandoned, with volunteers just beginning to set up the fair.
On the night of Thursday, Aug. 28, just behind the barn, a group of men were loading boards onto a truck.
“These are part of our stage and we put it right behind the logger sports. Then we build a deck over the pool,” said Fall Fair administrator Anne Sidall. “Every year they have to do this and that’s a huge job, they all go in a certain way and numbered.”
And it’s not only the outdoors that are bustling.
Inside the Kin Hut, Steve Kalugin, deputy governor of the Kin Canada Upper Island Zone and Barb Kalugin, president of the Port Alberni Kinette Club, are hard at work preparing to feed the hungry hordes that will descend on the fairgrounds come opening day. Well, that and trying to get their granddaughter, Mackenzie, to wear her customized apron. “Mackenzie, if you’re gonna help me, you have to be wearing this. See, I’ve got mine on.”
The Kinette Club has run the food booth at the fair since the club’s inception close to 50 years ago.
“They’re a small group but they do a lot of work and this is their major fundraiser for the year,” said Steve. “They support a lot of groups as well” and those groups will get donations in return for volunteering their time at the fall fair.
Any extra money that the Kinettes raise will go towards bursaries, helping adults with disabilities, the SPCA, Salvation Army and Cystic Fibrosis Canada, for which Kin Canada, the local club’s parent organization, has raised almost $40 million.
“All those funds are raised out of here so they’re busy, they’ll have four windows going,” he said. “It gets crazy. People are buying up, it’s all your regular burgers, hotdogs, fried onions of course, so with those smells they’re dragging everybody in.”
“We raise lots of money here and it all goes back to the community,” said Barb. “We get it all done in one weekend; the whole budget for our club is basically made during this weekend. It’s a lot of flipping burgers, it’s a lot of grease.”
But there’s a lot of work to be done before people can come down and get their burgers which means that everyone is hard at work, even Mackenzie, who’s helping Barb get some rocks ready to serve as weights so nothing blows away during the fair.
“Put one more up there: perfect! Now come put one over there, no no, leave that one there!”
There’s also painting to be done before the fair starts.
For two weeks now, Deb Johnson and her team of young volunteers have been hard at work painting new signs and refreshing old ones for this year’s event.
“We’ve spent four or five evenings now just touching up old signs and my son has spent two, four-hour afternoons at the regional district office just printing and laminating a whole bunch of signs. I think the signs have been going for a total of 24 hours after about four to five days.”
It’s Johnson’s first year doing this and she’s amazed by the amount of work it takes.
“I don’t know how long it normally takes, I don’t know if I’ve done well or not.”
The fall fair will feature midway rides from Westcoast Amusements, zucchini races, home baking and produce competitions, trade show, logger sports, a 4-H horse show, live entertainment each night and a parade on Saturday along 10th Avenue from Burde to Hollywood streets starting at 11 a.m.
It takes place at the fairgrounds behind the Glenwood Centre from 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept 4 until 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 7. Admission is $2 on Sept. 4 but for the first hour attendees can get in for free with a non-perishable food bank donation. For Sept 5, 6 and 7, admission is $10 for adults, $6 for students ages 13-18 and seniors, $3 for kids six to 12 and free for kids under 6. Rides are extra; $3 per ride on Thursday and $40 for the whole day on Friday and Saturday and $35 on Sunday. For more information, call (250) 723-9313 or visit www.albernifair.com.