By Sean Meyer
The Western Fair District (WFD) is looking for an extra 300 helping hands … well, for 10 days this fall at least.
The WFD needs help with jobs ranging from building cleaning and ticket selling to security and washroom attendants during the annual Western Fair, set for Sept. 9-18.
Heather Blackwell, WFD corporate affairs manager, said the 10-day jobs are vitally important as there is a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure the 200,000 attendants to the fair have themselves a great time.
“We probably average 500-600 people working on the fair. We have a complement of full-time staff who all have fair roles. We have a large part-time employee base and then there is the 10-day base,” Blackwell said. “We have 500 volunteers as well on top of that. But those 300 or so 10-day jobs are very important.”
“We are looking for energetic, confident, fun, professional individuals to represent us at our signature event,” she added. “We get people from across the city; we get people from smaller nearby towns.”
The fair is certainly the signature event, but it certainly is far from the only thing happening at the facility over the other 355 days of the year.
The need to tell people about all those other things is what led to the recent rebranding of the area as the Western Fair District. The new name, Blackwell said, honours the fair’s 140 plus years of history, but also speaks to events ranging from sports tournaments to trade shows.
“The annual event, the Western Event, is our signature event and is what people know us for. But the new name also signals to the community that we are evolving,” Blackwell said. “We are a year-round entertainment destination and we want everyone to know that. We are interested in bringing the community together, socializing, learning and having fun, in all aspects of what we offer here.”
After several years of planning, the rebranding process was created, Blackwell said, to basically establish the WFD — and the 85 acres it encompasses — as one of the core pieces of the city’s developing east end. In addition to the 10 days of the fair, the WFD is a showpiece, Blackwell said, for sports, gaming, agricultural events, cultural initiatives and trade shows.
“When you put district to that name it defines the whole area. The district becomes the destination,” Blackwell said. “There is a lot going on. We’ve always known that, but we wanted to communicate that better to the community at large.”
Blackwell said while the fair is a draw to people from across southwestern Ontario, the WFD’s role within its own community is one Blackwell said is always given a great deal of focus.
“We’ve always been proud to be a part of the Old East Village community … We work with the village to evolve the arts and culture aspect of what they are trying to do,” Blackwell said. “I think there are great things coming from Old East, and not just from us.”