As far as fall fairs go, Adeline Kelly has seen it all and done it all in the North Peace, for all 70 of them when they began in earnest here in 1947.
It’s fitting then that Kelly was celebrated for her dedication and commitment as a fall fair builder at this year’s 70th annual North Peace Fall Fair, with organizers dedicating the fair’s new exhibits building in her name and handing her a lifetime achievement award.
“It feels great, half in shock, really, because I wasn’t expecting anything like this,” Kelly said.
“i just didn’t think I was worthy of it, even though I put in 70 years.”
Indeed, Kelly’s participation and presence at the fair is impressive.
She started attending the fall fair as a newlywed back in 1947 when it was held for the first time near the present day Rose Prairie Community Centre. She remembers her husband Bob decided to enter some grain into the fair and asked if she was going to enter anything, and she told him nothing of hers was good enough to enter. Bob, however, insisted she enter her homemade bread, which she made weekly. Kelly finally agreed, sure that nothing would come of it.
Imagine her surprise when she took home first place for her delicious bread. Bob’s grain entries were winners as well, and together they decided that they would pool their prize money together and go for a 15-minute plan ride—a luxury for a poor young couple starting out.
“It was exciting. That was an experience,” she said.
With that ease of winning, the two became faithful fair attendees and volunteers for many years thereafter.
Kelly, an avid baker, canner, and gardener often entered her abundance of homemade goods, vegetables, and flowers. She enjoyed the competition and often hook home many prizes. But her talents laid not only in domestic entries, but she also held her own when it to cross saw competitions and spike driving, often entering together with Bob and on her own up into her senior years.
Kelly volunteered much of her time helping prepare for the fair by attending meetings and work bees. She held a position on the board from 1986 to 1988, and was the director from 1991 to 1997, and again in 2007. She spent 15 years as the canning competition chairperson, and used her many years of canning expertise’s to judging the canning entries in her later years.
In 2000, Adeline and Bob won the Pioneer of the Year award for their many years of dedication to the fair, and Adeline was also awarded volunteer of the year a few years after that.
Perhaps one of Adeline’s favourite things about he fair was the chance to catch up with people she didn’t get to see often. It was a good time when the farmers took a day off to get together and enjoy the fair.
In 70 years, Adeline has not missed a single fall fair. She always looks forward to it each year. Her love of the fall fair has passed down through the generations as her children, grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren attend and place entries into the fair.
Adeline now looks forward to seeing the entries of her family, and still enjoys a good visit with all the people she sees.