Kakabeka Legion secretary Ken Milenko
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A proposed revival of the Kakabeka Street Fair is creating headaches for their Oliver Paipoonge neighbours.
Details behind the Kakabeka Legion’s proposal to host the revamped fair on their property this summer were unveiled at a public meeting on Saturday, with the dates being a point of contention.
Legion secretary Ken Milenko, who led the meeting, said the economic benefits of the event made it clear it is worth bringing back. They wanted to get input from the public before making a decision on whether or not to hold the event.
“It was quite evident the village would see upwards of 28,000 to 30,000 people through the event in the past,” Milenko said. “If you ever saw the traffic in the village on those days it was swamped and that’s a really good thing for the community as a whole.”
He said the goal when creating the proposal was to build an event that maintains the history of the street fair, which used to be held in the heart of Kakabeka, and using the legion’s property to usher in a new era.
While many were in favour of the proposal, the selected dates of Aug. 15-17 is causing friction with the executive board of the Murillo Fair, which is scheduled for the same weekend.
The centrepiece of the Kakabeka proposal is procuring amusement rides, which are only available on that weekend. Milenko said he doesn’t see the new event as being worthwhile without the rides.
Meanwhile, Murillo Fair treasurer Sylvia Goodheart said she already expects a dual event weekend would take away from her gate.
“There are only so many dollars to go around,” she said. “Families are all living on budgets and this will definitely cut into our fair.”
Goodheart said this was year marks the third time in the past decade the venerable event had switched weekends trying to ensure it did not conflict with other festivals and community gatherings.
Other events such as the Westfort Street Fair, Italian Festival and Ribfest had resulted in a decreased attendance for the Murillo Fair.
She said the revival of the Kakabeka Street Fair did not appear to be in the realm of possibility.
“We were very shocked,” Goodheart said. “We had been trying to move our dates for quite a few years because of all the conflicts and this would give us a clear weekend to operate without it interfering with other events in the community.”
She added operating expenses and prizes distributed in the agricultural showcase are all dependent upon the gate attendance and that there is no money held for the event.
Milenko said it is not the intention of the Legion to step on anybody’s toes.
“We don’t want to conflict or compete with any other event,” he said. “They are our good neighbours and we want to work in concert with them.”
Instead, he envisions a scenario where the two events could create a collaboration that creates a weekend extravaganza for the township of Oliver Paipoonge.
Suggestions from attendees at the meeting included creating a joint weekend pass for both fairs, as well as providing shuttle transportation between the Murillo Fairgrounds and the Kakabeka Legion.
Milenko is hopeful that if the fair is held at the Legion and the two coincide that there is an extended range of time that would allow people to visit both, as well as the local businesses.
“The hours of operation are indeed something we considered very seriously. Fortunately, the rides go very late at night,” he said.
“Someone could come from the city and do a few hours at Murillo and then come over to the Legion and end it with a nice meal in the village of Kakabeka.”
Kakabeka resident and food vendor Bishop Racicot said the street fair was missed last year and echoed the belief that the two events can create a mutually beneficial partnership.
“We’re hoping it will be back, along with the Murillo Fair,” he said. “I think they can work hand-in-hand. People can go to Murillo one day and Kakabeka the next day or both the whole weekend.”
Despite their optimism, Goodheart isn’t sure what can be done.
“I don’t know what the answer would be,” she admitted in response to what an ideal scenario would be with the two events.
The Legion board is scheduled to reach a decision on whether they will hold the fair next Saturday.
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