Evaluating loss of fair

The sudden cancellation of the 2015 Summerland Fall Fair came as a surprise.

Dear Editor:

The sudden cancellation of the 2015 Summerland Fall Fair came as a surprise.

We both have been involved with this century-old festival as a vice-president, secretary, convener, special events director, website and Facebook administrator.

It was a lot of work and we always had to struggle with low participation at the board level. Nevertheless, even a handful of directors with strong leadership could produce this annual keystone event.

So we have to ask ourselves what went wrong this year?

An audit by the B.C. Gaming Commission by itself could not cause financial challenges. Yet this was one of the key reasons for cancelling this year’s fair.

The question is: was an application made and did the Gaming Commission provide funding?

If funding was not received, why were council or the public not notified and given the opportunity to contribute funds or provide sponsorships?

Shortages of directors was the other reason cited for cancelling the fair.

This could have been addressed by contacting former directors and asking for their help.

In a crisis situation with the threat of cancellation a direct appeal would certainly have mobilized some of us.However, we never received such a call.

The Summerland Fall Fair is managed by a registered, charitable society called the Summerland Exhibition Association.

This society must comply with B.C. regulations and with its own bylaws.

One of the requirements is an Annual General Meeting and the election of the Board which will execute the Fall Fair for the following year.

The AGM takes place in October or November.  In preparation of the AGM the current board must invite all members and nominations can be made.

Once the board is elected, the new executive is determined. This executive will then decide how to organize next year’s Fair and when to start this process.

Mr. Broesch’s statement that planning for the Fall Fair should only start in February is premature. It may not be his decision at all.

His assertion that the planning process could be abbreviated is unsubstantiated since the current executive has never managed a fall fair.

Now that the 2015 Fall Fair has been cancelled, we would like to see the executive make a public presentation to council and explain what they are doing to ensure that the hundreds of items required to conduct the fall fair are stored in such a manner that they can be retrieved next year without loss or damage.

How will they ensure that membership is maintained, finances are in order and a successful grant application can be conducted for the next year?

How will they make sure that we do not lose our 150 dedicated volunteers, suppliers, entertainers and food vendors?

And how they intend to involve those who have successfully managed the Summerland Fall Fair in the past?

The most important task will then rest with us, the community at large.

We need to find out why unlike many other societies, the fall fair has such a hard time assembling and maintaining a qualified and hard-working board that does not need to be recreated every year.

Perhaps we all need to take a hard look at how we have supported the fall fair in the past and how we can do better. Because without active public support throughout the year the Summerland Fall Fair will never be held again.

Henry and Angela Sielmann