An early summer tradition has been called off this year as organizers for the Chatham Kinsmen Fair claim they were left with no options to provide midway rides.
It would have been the 76th year of the fair, run by the Chatham Jaycees for 60 years before it was taken over by the Kinsmen Club.
According to club president and fair chair Ryan Robinson, organizers had to pull the plug on this year's event after being informed World's Finest Shows, the company it has used for several years, can't do it.
Robinson tells CK News Today that the Kinsmen Club started to make arrangements to work with Orangeville-based company Robertson Amusements this year, after reportedly hearing from a show worker last summer that World's Finest wouldn't be available.
He said that once word got out that Robertson Amusements planned to work the event, territorial issues arose, and World's Finest came back to the table saying they would do it, and Robertson backed out and booked another event.
Robinson said he then received a call from World's Finest on Tuesday saying they can't do it and said they didn't provide a reason. After receiving the news, Robinson said they scrambled to put other plans into place, but were unable to secure a replacement, leading them to cancel the weekend fair.
"It was a hard decision," said Robinson. "We twisted and turned, we went though all our options, I called 27 ride companies." Robinson noted that they did hear from a New Brunswick based business, however he said it would be too expensive for the Kinsmen Club to cover the cost of the cross-province trek while still being able to raise funds for the community.
Robinson said they are now working out the details to hold several other events this year, including a yard sale, an emergency safety event and a ball hockey game to help make up for the loss of the fair, but he believes they won't measure up to the funding the fair usually brings in. Last year's event brought in over $15,000.
"We sell fireworks, we also do bingos, but nothing's going to compete with the fair," Robinson said.
Robinson explained funds raised by the Kinsmen Club support minor sports teams in the community and the 294 Chatham-Kent Air Cadet Squadron. While he's unsure of what support they will be able to offer this year, they are committed to helping out any way they can.
"It's our main goal to sponsor the community. We want to put the money back in, it just means we have to find another way to do it."
Looking ahead to next year, Robinson said there will be more to look forward to including a soap box derby. The Kinsmen Club said it is booking with Robertson Amusements, which has promised to bring 15 midway rides in 2024.