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Volunteers honoured at grassroots Ameliasburgh Fair

By Olivia Timm
Sunshine with a chill in the air on the first weekend of autumn, greeted families and friends who filtered into the Roblin Lake Fairgrounds for the 38th annual Ameliasburgh Fair Saturday, Sept. 24.

During the opening ceremonies, Fair Board Chair Kaitlyn Bell, introduced several individuals and spoke to their notable contributions.

Robert Bell was the guest of honour at this year’s fair.

Bell’s grandfather, Robert Bell, was this year’s guest of honour to officially declare the fair open.

“People have a yearning for it, so here we are again on opening day,” he said.

Prince Edward County Mayor Steve Ferguson, echoed the excitement declaring “The Ameliasburgh fair is back!”

Kaitlyn had stepped into the role as chair in 2018, but had to take pause in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the fair’s second hiatus, with the first one lasting 40 years.

“The fair had been a long time going, it had a 40 year hiatus and then in 1981, they hosted the first re-born Ameliasburgh fair and it’s been going ever since,” Bell explained. “We had to plan at the very last minute for this one, after all of the COVID protocols finally went away, so we didn’t start until April in our planning and it was a huge team effort to pull it together and do what we’ve always done. It’s been an amazing turnout and everyone is excited to have it going again.”

Bell added the board chose to include some more live entertainment this year and condensed the activities down to a one-day event, as opposed to the usual two-day offering.

Jan Nightingale, left, receiving the Arlie Kerwin Memorial Award for Excellence in Volunteerism presented by Kerwin’s granddaughter Jamie Jonah.

Jamie Jonah presented the Arlie Kerwin Memorial Award for Excellence in Volunteerism to Jan Nightingale, who has been part of the Ameliasburgh Fair Board for a number of years, and recently stepped down as chair and now serves as vice-chair.

“It’s a great honour to receive an award that is named after someone who did so much in this community, not just with the fair, but volunteering with many, many things,” Nightingale said. “Her name will go down in history because she did so much for the fair.”

Jonah, the granddaughter of Kerwin, thanked the board committee for allowing her the opportunity to reinstate the volunteer award in her grandmother’s name.

“Some of you might recall my grandma, but for those who don’t know who she was, I will give you the history of the fair and what it meant to her.

“After living in the County for over a decade, she began her volunteerism with the Ameliasburgh Fair in the mid 1980s. After doing that for several years, she became the secretary of the board in 1988 and 1989. It was then in 1990 that my grandma Arlie began her tenure as the chair of the fair board which is an office she held until approximately 2000, but continued to serve and volunteer until her death in 2007, when cancer took her from us. Even though she was going through treatment she still managed to serve in 2000 and 2005 as well,” Jonah shared.

“Arlie eventually made the fair a family affair by volunteering with us as volunteers. From about the time I was able to do things on my own, I became my grandma’s gofer during fair days and would be sent here, there and everywhere to help where it was needed. One year of the fair would come to a close and she would already be working on the next year. My grandmother loved all of her volunteers and the camaraderie they built. She always said the volunteers were the backbone of the fair.”

Visitors this year perused the grounds while some enjoyed a dance performance by a group from Trenton’s Astounding Heights Dance Academy, and others listened to the musical stylings of Big Black Smoke.

Debbie Ruston, Dixie Motley and Marg Bourgoin, with the Albury Rednersville Women’s Institute, served up homemade pies.

This year, as in previous years, crowds gathered in line to get slices of homemade pies prepared by the Albury/Rednersville Women’s Institue members, and feast on a hamburgers and hotdog from the Firefighter’s Association barbecue.

Along with the traditional food vendors, the fair also featured a craft show, bake sale, a balloon genie, kids’ fun zone and scavenger hunt and horse and cattle shows.

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  1. Matt says:

    Arlie was a great volunteer for the Canadian Cancer Society as well. I worked with her for years there.

    Thanks to the organizers for renaming this award in her name. Fun and loving, she was a delight to work with.

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