Prepare to care for the Fair in the Square

This event hosts local vendors, Vancouver-based musicians, and a free BBQ

Delicate jewellery pieces are on display at a retail stall, including earrings of the Palestinian flag made with small beads.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Amrit Kamaal / The Peak

By: Amrit Kamaal, Peak Associate

On June 9, the Fair in the Square, kicked off. Best of all, it was absolutely free of charge! Visiting the event for the first time helped me re-experience the feeling of creating new connections — like I would in the children’s festival in my city. Although the fair has said goodbye for this summer, it’s never too late to add it to your bucket list for next year.

Located at Victory Square Park, Fair in the Square is hosted annually by the Central City Foundation and their partners at Vancouver Community College (VCC). This year, Collingwood Recreation Society paired up with them to co-host this event as a means of “connecting with our community, while celebrating the vibrancy and resilience of our inner city.” For nearly two decades, this community function has hosted over 3,000 attendees, inviting them in with free refreshments, activities, and the artisan market. The participants and volunteers all showed generosity to my friends and I by exchanging stories of their lives in Vancouver. As first-time fairgoers, this event radiated a sense of familiarity in me and drove me to learn about this event’s significance to other peoples’ childhoods. This year marked its 16th annual instalment, which was packed with live music from talented singers.

You could feel the alluring sense of community from a mile away, with loud, inviting party music and the savoury aroma of free BBQ. The lineup for food went around the block, with visitors making a mental note to come back for seconds. In the meantime, student volunteers flocked to each corner of the park, providing refreshments to beat the heat. People saved each other picnic tables and blankets, taking turns standing in line for food to share with one another. These wonderful eats were graciously prepared by the VCC Culinary Program!

“You could feel the vibrant sense of community from a mile away, luring people in with the loud, inviting party music and the savoury aroma of the free BBQ.” 

We sat in a big crowd in the middle of the park, where we saw hundreds of festivalgoers make connections with each other with big smiles. From our picnic blanket, we enjoyed live performances and musical shows that concluded in the audience begging for an encore. Local bands and singers that had the audience swaying along included alternative R&B artist Deocera; Wildflower, Women of Turtle Island Drum Group; and contemporary gospel hand-drummers, M’Girl. The energy that every performance had, although contrasting in sound and style, all gave off love for the craft and the audience. The communal atmosphere shone through, with people showing off their best dance moves! 

Many local businesses were present in the artisan market, displaying their talent and amazing products to the community. One of the vendors was the Enterprising Women Making Art, which features handmade pieces of art and jewellery. This business provides employment opportunities for all women, with the hope of “strengthening and fostering women’s full and equal participation in the community and economy.” My Sister’s Closet is another Vancouver fashion staple to check out, advocating for “zero-waste, eco-fashion, and the thrift movement.” This business offers deals on high quality clothing in an ecofriendly way, with their raised funds going to Battered Women’s Support Services

When I was a child, I used to love going to the children’s fairs held in my local playground before they shut down. Coming to this festival helped me reconnect with that lost part of my childhood again, allowing me to feel welcome in the community once more. 

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