Final Rupert fair?
The Rupert fair is making its triumphant return to the Hills Sept. 9-10 after a long, three-year hiatus.
But organizers say this could be the last time the Gatineau Valley Fair – in all its glory – takes place.
Volunteers like Carolyn Kelly, who have been organizing the Rupert fair for over 20 years, say they are burning out and they need a new generation to step up.
“It was a lot of stress on the person organizing it,” said Kelly. “[Getting volunteers has] always been an ongoing issue, but even more so as the years go on. People who have been helping over the last couple of years have other priorities…so there may be a few gaps where we haven’t been able to get people to help fill in.”
Kelly told the Low Down that, while the full-blown Rupert fair hasn’t returned to the Rupert Community Centre since 2019, organizers did host the light horse show for the kids last year and will continue to host the horse show and western games in the future. But volunteers are staging this year’s full fair as an experiment to determine whether or not it’s worth all the work.
“We won’t ever stop having the fun kids’ show part, but whether it’s worth all the extra stuff, that’s sort of where we are at,” said Kelly.
All the good things you remember from the Rupert fair will return this year. From Friday night’s heavy horse pull with music by Drew Nielsen to a full day of games for the kids on Saturday, including bouncy castles, games and a pet show. Saturday will also boast the return of the Gymkhana western games, where young horseback riders will race through patterns of barrels, poles and other obstacles on the arena grounds.
Kelly said watching young racers gain experience and confidence has driven her to give so much time to the fair over the past two decades.
“It gives the local children a chance to get out and have some fun,” she added about the Gymkhana games. “Most of the other fairs are some pretty serious competition and they have to be at a certain level, where with Rupert, we’ve always been willing to give the little ones a learning experience.”
She said she also loves seeing the red and black checkered shirts darting throughout the parking lot when the burly bush workers come out to show off their stuff during the amateur lumberjack competition.
Kelly said she loves every aspect of the Rupert fair, but added that without help, the Rupert fair can’t continue as is. She said that she’s hoping a new generation of Rupertonians will step up to keep the tradition alive for years to come.
“There’s a lot of interest for people to come and see and do things; to experience it, but there are not many who want to help set up and start working on organizing it.”
The Rupert fair kicks off Sept. 9 with the heavy horse pull at 6:30 p.m; live music will follow the event. Saturday will bring out the “not-to-be-missed” costume class, where riders will shine up their steeds for judges. The Gymkhana western games begin in the afternoon.
Kids are urged to bring their furry friends for the Saturday afternoon pet show, with prizes for winners in 13 different categories. Saturday afternoon will also boast bouncy castles, food, drink and live music.
Visit the Gatineau Valley Fair’s Facebook page for more info: https://www.facebook.com/RupertFair