The Volunteers do it again!
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
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!
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.