Home Kid toys Volunteers are key to making the fall fair fun for kids

Volunteers are key to making the fall fair fun for kids

0

By Michelle Mallet

Three years have passed since the last Grand Forks Fall Fair, and organizers face the same critical need for volunteers as many other nonprofit groups. Organizers are finding that once-reliable helpers can’t step in this year, due to health issues, family demands or, in some cases, because they’ve moved away. So there is a desperate call for volunteers for this year’s event.

All areas of the fair need help, from setting up and taking down the fences, stage and tables before and after the fair, to setting up the showroom, to security and help in the children’s play area during the course of the fair. Volunteers are needed for a variety of tasks, some as short as two hours, from Monday August 29 until the Fair closes on September 4. Those who donate at least four hours of their time can win a day pass to the Fair. For help, call 250-442-2274.

Since that 2019 event, kids haven’t been able to enjoy old-fashioned carnival games at the Grand Forks Fall Fair. We need volunteers to organize the event, Labor Day weekend. Photo by Peter Kalasz

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 play area operates on both days. “It takes 12 people every day,” she notes. When there are not enough volunteers, she has to close some games, which is disappointing for the children.

The games are best described as good old-fashioned carnival-style fun – among the six games there’s Beat the Buzzer, for two age groups, one called Crazy Driver, and a shooting gallery that uses nerf guns. Beat the Buzzer is all about following a route without touching the sides; if you do, the buzzer goes off. “It’s an old car horn,” Leslie laughs. Crazy Driver asks the player to use 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 night with games, because adults enjoy them as much as children.

“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 create replica games to play at the fall fair. They keep the games and maintain them, to make sure they are well maintained and ready for every fair event.

As the 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 that all children leave with a toy of their choice.

“These are for the kids,” Leslie enthuses. “It doesn’t matter their background; they leave with a toy and they have fun. When asked why she and Oldroyd spent time and money on this, her answer is direct and from the heart. “Your community is what you make of it. So if you give to your community, it grows and flourishes.

Zucchini races are back!  Donate your squash for the kids to decorate and race on Labor Day weekend at the Grand Forks Fall Fair for the first time since 2019. Photo by Peter Kalasz

Zucchini races are back! Donate your squash for the kids to decorate and race on Labor Day weekend at the Grand Forks Fall Fair for the first time since 2019. Photo by Peter Kalasz

Speaking of growing and flourishing, Kim McLellan hosts the ever-popular zucchini races for kids, and she’s soliciting zucchini donations. They can be any length, color or shape, but the maximum diameter is four inches or 10 cm. “It’s so we can get the pegs in place to mount the wheels,” she explains. Kids decorate the squash and add wheels and race their creations down a special ramp. Courgettes can be dropped off at the exhibition center any time before the fair from August 31.

Children of all ages are welcome to participate in the races; races take place each time six zucchini are decorated and ready to go. In 2019, about 100 kids competed, McLellan recalls. “We expect more this year with so many new families,” she adds.

The Grand Forks Fall Fair is held at Dick Bartlett Park, behind the recreation center, with the exhibit hall in the curling rink. The dates of the fairs are September 3 and 4. Admission is $5 to $10 for one day, with weekend passes and family discounts also available.