The Vol­un­teers do it again!

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Ayer's Cliff

I t takes an army of vol­un­teers to run an event that wel­comes close to 25,000 visi­tors over four days. Thank­fully, al­though many or­ga­ni­za­tions across Canada are strug­gling from a lack of vol­un­teers, there is no short­age for the Ayer’s Cliff Fair. Not only are the fair’s well over one hun­dred vol­un­teers loyal, re­li­able, ca­pa­ble and dedi-

cated, they are also pas­sion­ate and de­ter­mined to make sure the Ayer’s Cliff Fair con­tin­ues well past its 175th an­niver­sary, com­ing up in 2020.

Walk­ing through the barns and fair build­ings last Fri­day, vol­un­teers were easy to run into for quick in­ter­views as they car­ried out their du­ties, all do­ing their part like a well-oiled ma­chine. First spot­ted was one of the Fair Board’s vol­un­teer Di­rec­tors, Peter McHarg, sit­ting down with Francine Otis and Heather Wynne, vol­un­teers with the chil­dren’s races. “It’s my third year vol­un­teer­ing at the fair. Once he (Peter McHarg) has your name…” joked Mrs. Otis, a twenty year Ayer’s Cliff res­i­dent who also vol­un­teers at the lo­cal clinic, the Christ­mas Vil­lage and the school cafe­te­ria. Heather Wynne, who moved to Ayer’s Cliff three years ago af­ter re­tir­ing from her po­si­tion as the Di­rec­tor of the Len­noxville Vo­ca­tional Train­ing Cen­tre, is a first year vol­un­teer at the fair, brought on board by a friend. “When I was grow­ing up I spent my sum­mers in Ayer’s Cliff,” said Heather.

“My fa­ther was on the fair’s Board. He joined in 1946, right af­ter the war,” said Mr. McHarg, a long-time Di­rec­tor and past fair pres­i­dent. “I was al­ways at the fair grow­ing up in Ayer’s Cliff. I used to ride horses there. We have a re­ally good Board of Di­rec­tors, all vol­un­teers, and when it comes time ev­ery­one pitches in and is ready to go,” said Peter in an interview at the side of the race track. As we talked, along came Janie and Les­lie Web­ster, the for­mer Sec­re­tary of the fair for decades and a for­mer decades-long Di­rec­tor, rid­ing in one of those golf carts used by vol­un­teers to get around the huge site, big smiles on their faces. “Those two had re­tired from the fair but I got them back. I won’t let them re­tire – they’re still too young!” said Mr. McHarg.

Also wait­ing to help with the chil­dren’s games near the Grand­stand was for­mer Sun­ny­side Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion teacher, now re­tired, Maureen Hal­lamLe­may. “I used to show horses here but it’s my first year vol­un­teer­ing at the fair and I’ll just be busy for a few hours. Some peo­ple work here all week­end!” said Maureen who is also the “very, very, very proud” mother of Cana­dian Olympic eques­trian Colleen Loach. “Colleen used to com­pete at the Ayer’s Cliff Fair and since she was ten she wanted to be in the Olympics,” she added.

Kyna Beek­ers is another ‘newish’ vol­un­teer, in charge of the draft horse di­vi­sion for a sec­ond year. Asked why she de­cided to vol­un­teer, she said sim­ply: “It’s our home­town fair.” She was work­ing along­side Jean Har­ri­son and Ring Mas­ter Robert Har­ri­son. “I showed horses here for thirty-five years. I stopped show­ing in 2008 and started vol­un­teer­ing in­stead,” ex­plained Mrs. Har­ri­son.

Vol­un­teer fix­tures at the poul­try barn are Sue and Dean Young and usu­ally one or more of their chil­dren. “My par­ents, Ben and Meg Cun­ning­ton, used to vol­un­teer in the goat barns. That’s how I got started,” said Sue. “I had un­cles and aunts who used to vol­un­teer at the Brome Fair,” said Dean who grew up in the Knowl­ton area. Re­tired schoolteacher Bar­bara He­witt was tak­ing a break from her vol­un­teer du­ties in the Main Build­ing with the Ladies’ De­part­ment to check out the poul­try barn and the ar­ti­sans along­side it. “I’m a judge with the Ladies’ De­part­ment and I en­ter things in the Ladies De­part­ment and the Hor­ti­cul­ture,” said Bar­bara, not too wor­ried about the pos­si­ble ‘con­flict of in­ter­est’. “I’ve been Pr in t e d an d di s t r i b u t e d by P r es­sReader

photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

For­mer Sun­ny­side gym teacher, Maureen Hal­lam-Le­may, is a first year fair vol­un­teer and the proud mother of Olympian Colleen Loach.

Janie and Les­lie Web­ster, still vol­un­teer­ing, have earned their own cart af­ter decades of ser­vice to the fair!

Pho­tos Vic­to­ria Vanier

Vol­un­teers Francine Otis, Peter McHarg and Heather Wynne sit­ting with DJ Doug Tin­carre (at left) on the Grand­stand.

Kyna Beek­ers (left) and Jean Har­ri­son, who ran the Draft Horse di­vi­sion, are seen here with Ring Mas­ter Robert Har­ri­son.

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