Local fairs and festivals struggling due to lack of volunteers
Several local fairs and festivals are calling off their upcoming events due to a lack of volunteers. Meanwhile one festival is thriving.
The Mount Forest Fall Fair is one of many that had to cancel this year’s event.
“It's sad to see the end of an era,” Wellington North Mayor Andy Lennox said. “Unfortunately after 160 years the fall fair will not happen in Mount Forest because we don't have the Agriculture Society or volunteer organization to make it happen.”
It’s a situation that’s not unique to Mount Forest.
The Brantford Kinsmen Rib Fest was also forced to call off this summer's event.
“I mean everybody wants these events to happen in the summer, but nobody seems to want to contribute to be able to make them happen,” said Jeffery Hardin, the entertainment coordinator at the Brantford Kinsmen Rib Fest.
Paired with the lack of a suitable location, getting volunteers has been a struggle.
“It makes me feel exhausted but it stresses us out a bit and it makes the few people that we do have involved wear five or six or seven different hats in putting this event together,” Harding said.
The Norfolk County Agricultural Society said they understand that feeling.
“The volunteer base is aging and I think a lot of those people were uncomfortable coming out of COVID to get back into things,” said Angela Hogeveen the general manager at the Norfolk County Agricultural Society.
The Norfolk County fairgrounds festival is not only staying alive, but finding a way to thrive.
Some of that funding is coming from the municipality through a program called Amplify Norfolk – an initiative that supports numerous live events in Norfolk. It has stirred up a lot of community interested with planned performances from groups like The Beaches, Finger Eleven, Sloan and Bif Naked.
The acts have helped recruit younger volunteers.
“I mean without that support, it wouldn't be possible,” said Hogeveen.
The goal is to: “to attract tourists to Norfolk County through live entertainment events and generate spillover effects for Norfolk businesses, establishing Norfolk County as a premiere destination for live entertainment in Ontario,” their website said.
Without proper access to funding and volunteers, the fall of fairs and festivals could be a sign of the future.