A Community Affair
The annual Summerland Fall Fair, now in its 103rd year, celebrates the harvest, as wreaths of red and gold and straw-stuffed scarecrows welcome fair-goers at the entrance to the Summerland arena.
The focus of the fair is on family and community and is about the rewards that come from growing food from root stock, bulbs or seed and the enjoyment derived from sharing with friends, family and neighbours.
Longest apple peel contest
Apples are a big part of the Fall Fair where there are events and contests such as trying your hand at creating the longest apple peel or being part of an orchard sprayer regeneration project… or like many of the fall fair participants; working hard to produce the winning apple pie in the baked goods contest.
This years fair had a big emphasis on apples which was evident with their buttons and programs proclaiming ‘Take a Bite!”
Canned fruits and vegetables are also an important part of the rural fair as traditionally life has been dependent on what is grown or harvested during the various seasons and preserving it for the long winter is preferable to purchasing out of season produce shipped in from elsewhere.
The number of submissions for the Summerland Fall Fair’s baked goods section is considerable and it takes a team of judges a couple of hours to sample the items in order to discern their merits. In the interest of fairness, the names of the contestants are covered up until after the judging is complete.
There are cookies of all sorts, shapes and sizes and the kids category is fun with a smartie-festooned brightly colored chocolate monstrosity that you just know if you were to eat it, you’d overdose on the sugar but you also know that the kids had great fun making it.
Along with the cookies, there are freshly baked loaves of bread – all worked into different shapes using various types of flour and methods – some newer ones and some methods handed down through the generations of Summerland families.
A kids’ world
Many of the events at the fall fair are centered around children such as the workshop with the ingenious tools designed to be safe for children and at the same time are completely engrossing and inspiring. There’s activity everywhere and passionate enthusiasm and a desire to create something in an independent environment.
Other kids events include the small animal 4H demos and judged competitions in animal husbandry which teaches children responsibility for the animals’ well-being as well as giving them a sense of pride in their accomplishments.
The 4H pledge and motto which is “to make the best better” and to “learn by doing” works to enhance the community based on the tenets contained in the pledge: “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world!”
An entertaining and lively event
The 2012 fall fair was a lively and fun experience with entertainers ranging from a Neil Young tribute artist named Kevin Foley who was the embodiment of Neil himself – to Grant Stone, a ‘cowboy poet’, who’s poetry resonates even if you’re not into or don’t know that much about cowboy culture.
This year was also the second annual wine fair and competition with eleven local Bottleneck Drive wineries and newcomers such as the Summerland Heritage Cider Company sampling their products. Attendance was strong and the crowd was lively!
Visually the arts and crafts section was inspiring with a multitude of exhibits reflecting the creativity of both young and old members of the community.
One participant created cricket fridge magnets out of old forks – imaginative and clever and a good reflection of Summerland where in the summer the chirping of crickets can be heard in hedges and fields in and outside of the town.
Some of the lego exhibits were the equivalent of small universes on a table top – intricate and complex, these exhibits help to expand the horizons of small children as they learn to love building and creating things by using their own imaginations as their guide.
The quilts made by the local women are part of a movement to continue and to revitalize a lost art – the quilts were imaginative and had been lovingly and painstakingly created over the months leading up to the fair.
A reflection of life in a rural community
Standing in the upper gallery overlooking the arena, you get the feeling that you are a privileged witness to an event that has long been an integral part of rural life. It displays the character and heart of the town and helps to form a binding unity for the community.
The Summerland Fall Fair is a wonderful mix of small cottage industry products, farm-gate fruits and vegetables, crafts and entertainment all bundled into one event that not only showcases the best of Summerland, but that is also an event best reflecting who we are as a community. It’s an event above all that makes Summerland so incredibly unique.
article/photography by Stephanie Seaton