Fall 2016 marked the first annual McSpadden County Fair, held at McSpadden Park in East Vancouver. The goal of this project was to bring the warmth and acceptance of a small town to our urban community by inviting its neighbours to come together for a family day filled with harvest fun.
Using the example of events such as Salt Spring Island’s Fall Fair, we wanted to ensure that the event would have something for everyone so we paired favourite traditional country fair activities with the diversity of urban living. Planning the event for everyone meant that regardless of family economic situations everyone would be welcome to actively participate and contribute to the energy of the event.
Being new to planning community events on this scale, we learned many valuable lessons along the way. Most importantly… that volunteers are the key. Reaching out to the community we realized just how many amazingly talented and engaged people were out there just looking to sink their teeth into a great project.
Once found, their excitement was contagious!
We also found that budgeting for an event of this size was surprising and challenging, but fortunately, there are wonderful organizations, like The Vancouver Foundation, that are there to help support projects like this. Their generous contribution made our event possible and we look forward to working with them again.
What would we include in our Fair? Topics of interest would cover a wide range and members of the business community were given opportunities to participate. What resulted were information booths on sustainable urban agriculture practices like beekeeping, gardening, greening your home, food reclamation, and fermenting. Physical fitness was featured as well as the work of several talented local artisans selling breathtaking pottery, clothing, and jewellery.
Like all county fairs there was food- pie contests, canning contests, and a community garden basket competition where the food was to be redistributed to a community in need. This is something we also hope to grow into a substantial donation for families and programs in need each year, and to bring awareness to the food redistribution projects happening elsewhere in our neighbourhood. Local businesses donated amazing raffle prizes also.
The Fair’s biggest draw however, was the wildly successful East Van ZUCCHINI RACES. Seeds donated by a local flower shop were distributed early enough that anyone could grow their own zucchini. With over 60 registered racers making history down our custom 28’ track, the community came together in raucous cheering and the sounds of epic crash sympathies.
Live music, a spontaneous community square dance, loads of activities for families, a kid zone, and delicious food trucks filled out the experience.
McSpadden County Fair was more successful in its first year than we could ever have imagined. An estimated 400-500 attendees, who were all primarily from the surrounding area of the park, came together, to build, create, and engage. We have been receiving some very enthusiastic feedback, and questions about being involved next year. Families working together to build the fastest racer, local craftspeople engaging their neighbours in meaningful conversations, and wild dancing in the sun have made the McSpadden County Fair an event to look forward to. And it is one I am proud to be a part of. We are thrilled to have begun this new East Van tradition and hope to connect our community in even greater ways next year.
If you are interested in getting involved next year, please reach out to mcspaddencountyfair@gmail.com

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