At the beginning of August, three weeks before the fair weekend, organizers weren’t sure there were going to be enough volunteers to help staff the event. But a series of newspaper articles and pleas on social media helped motivate volunteers, and the fair turned out to be a success again this year.
Fair association officers are hoping to tap that short-term burst of volunteer energy into some long-term stability for the venerable agrarian tradition. What they need are volunteers to help organize and run the fair, and they need to develop an expanded core of them soon.
The fair association is holding its annual meeting on October 16.
Current members say they need another influx of volunteer help to keep the fair afloat for next year and beyond, and hope the annual meeting will generate some new interest in running the fair.
“It would be nice to see a decent attendance,” said association vice president Ann Brown of the annual meeting. “Without some key people in place to put the fair together, it all falls back on the few who are trustees.”
Brown noted that the fair serves a number of area towns. Dover, Halifax, Marlboro, Newfane, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Stratton, Townshend, Wardsboro, Whitingham, and Wilmington are the towns the fair considers part of its core constituency.
“The annual meeting is a meeting of the members of the association,” said association president Steve Adams. “Anyone who resides in those towns is, by default, a member. All the members have a vote about the business of the fair.”
Brown and Adams said they hope some new volunteers will attend the annual meeting. There are a number of key roles to be filled, and the current slate of officers can’t take it all on by themselves.
“Anyone interested in being a trustee or superintendant,” said Brown, “now would be the time to join us. Trustees help direct the fair for the upcoming year, it’s nearly a year-round position. Superintendants are heads of departments of the fair. We need somebody who can spearhead the whole project, set it up over the year. We need superintendants who can commit.”
Some of those departments include the horse pull, truck pull, kids games, and other very popular events. Many of them require early planning, including vendor agreements that have to be lined up well in advance.
Brown added that this year they were trying to find superintendants in April, which is too late to organize some of the events of the fair effectively. “We can’t continue that way.”
Brown was also appreciative of the volunteers who answered the pleas for help this summer.
“I want to give a huge thank you to all those who stepped forward from articles and Facebook posts,” she said. “It made me feel like there are a lot of people out there who feel it’s important to keep the fair going. I had so many people say they had no idea the fair needed help.”
The fair association annual meeting will be held Tuesday, October 16, at 7 pm at the Wilmington Fire Department. The next fair is set for August 15 through 18, 2013.
Adams echoed Brown’s gratitude to those who helped out this year, and reiterated how much the fair needs increased volunteer help to remain viable.
“Nobody here has really experienced a year without a fair. It’s gone on every year, except after the ‘38 flood,” said Adams. “It’s like death and taxes. People always assume it ‘s going to be there.”