Each Labour Day weekend rings very true with the twenty-plus members of the Sidney Rotary Club. Over the years, this fling has truly evolved into an elaborate labour of love for a small club with a big agenda.
Since 1956, ten years after we first stood up, our club has provided annual gaming support to the fall fair now held at the Central Saanich Fair Grounds. I’m told that the former location for the fair even had its own BINGO hall, which was set up and run by Sidney Rotarians. However, when the fair moved to its current location on Stelly’s Cross Road in about 1993, no BINGO Hall was erected (probably due to funding constraints) and the club moved under canvass.
The fair is advertised as being suitable and attractive for all ages. Thus the nature of our service to the fair has also evolved over the years. A lack of toddler amusements has been filled with Lucky Duck and Pin Ball Drop (everybody gets a prize!) and Fish Pond (now serving our third generation of folks with blunt fish hooks and lead fishes!) Some of the bigger kids wanted to try their luck at such things as Ball Pitch (look out, stacked milk bottles!) and shooting cork guns at plastic targets. BINGO in canvas tents spread out to include Crown and Anchor and Number gambling wheels. And there’s no law saying Mom or Dad couldn’t try their skills out at all the games, too! (In fact, they’re the only ones allowed at the gambling wheels!)
On the tough side, for the first time since we started helping out at the fair, in spite of splendid support from friends of Rotary and friends and relatives of members, something had to give. Since BINGO was by far the most labour-intensive game offered by the club, combined with the rigours and uncertainties of the current COVID conventions, the reluctant decision was made not to offer it at the fair this year. And I’m told by fair administrators that several people returned to the main gate and demanded a refund of their admission, since no BINGO was offered for their participation! We obviously need still more members and more volunteers. And hopefully COVID goes away too. We’re working on it!
Tired and tucked after five days of intensive and vigorous activity, our club members felt weary, but proud and elated that we had again supported the fair to the best of our ability, entertained multitudes of the peninsula community, and raised some good coin to support our other yearly activities. That’s what Rotary is about, right?