It takes a Village!

Around 2000 people attended an old-fashioned Family Fun Fair in Newnham recently which was such an enchanting success it’s set to become an annual event.

The fair at Uniting AgeWell’s Newnham Community, Aldersgate Village saw residents and the general public making merry and enjoying pony rides, a dog-jumping show and traditional games and stalls. More than 200 Devonshire cream scones sold out in the first 90 minutes rivalled only by the 500 doughnuts and countless sausages consumed in record time.

“We were overjoyed with how big the crowd was,” says Residential Service Manager Audette Groenewold. “There were people queuing up outside the gate half an hour before the fair started! There was a tremendous feeling of community spirit.”

Residents from Uniting AgeWell’s Aldersgate Village Independent Living Units ran the Devonshire tea stall and sausage sizzle, while members of the Northern Tasmanian Light Horse Troop, turned out in full regalia which enhanced the feeling of old-fashioned nostalgia. Local businesses generously donated prizes of chocolate hampers, massage, cakes and meat vouchers while more than 45 volunteers donned high-vis vests with the slogan “it takes a village”, helping out wherever they were needed.

“Residents wanted to experience the traditional fairs they remembered enjoying as youngsters, so we thought we’d bring the fair to them,” explains Audette. “They had a ball! It was heart-warming to see young and old having their faces painted, going on pony and carriage rides and generally enjoying themselves.”

Not just carriage rides! A few little ones enjoyed cadging rides with their grandparents who use wheelchairs, and the dog show proved an absolute hit as did the live music performance.

Friends and families helped out too. Audette’s daughter and granddaughter worked flat out doing face painting and hair dyeing while staff members also pulled out all the stops. They dressed up in rainbow outfits, while others donned Spanish traditional gear and a Mad Hatter’s costume.

Admissions Officer Lucy Walters donned a full duck costume as she braved the warm weather at the pluck-a-duck stall; nurse Yang Xu got sticky pink glued in her hair and eyebrows as she kept the fairy floss machine going full tilt and Lifestyle Coordinator Eleanor Clinton managed to clock up an impressive 24,000 steps on her walking app as she and Audette were everywhere all at once.

Kings Meadows Chaplain Ian Wheeler, who used to be the chaplain at Aldersgate Village, was there to run the handball competition.

Uniting AgeWell Home Care Program Manager Ann Bingham was also there and welcomed enquiry from over 100 people keen to ask for more information about services enabling older people to live safely and well in their own homes. “People were very keen to learn more,” says Ann. “It was also lovely to see many of our home care clients join in the activities and have a wonderful time.”

But despite the huge turnout, the real treat was seeing the smiles on the residents’ faces. “They wanted to attend a traditional community fair – and it was an added bonus that the fair was right here where they live!” says Audette. “They all thought it was pretty special! Eleanor and the lifestyle team worked tirelessly over the last couple of months to pull this event together to ensure the residents, community, family could enjoy a fair to remember. The photos are a testament to the joy experienced not only by the residents but everyone who attended.”

The summary of the day is best left up to the residents. One said, “I reckon this is absolutely marvellous, I love seeing all the old side shows and vans and to see the looks on all the little kids’ faces is just marvellous.”

Another said. “It has brought back memories for me, but most of all I think it’s damn great that the people have come along in droves like this. There’s cars and people everywhere right out into the street, it’s unbelievable.”

Still another comment was: “I’ve enjoyed it – there couldn’t be a soul here that hasn’t enjoyed it! It’s just really good.”