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  • Writer's pictureKinglake Historical Society

The Fun of the Fair. - Our Heritage MM March 2020

Updated: May 29, 2022

With the 2020 Kinglake Country Fair coming up on 22 March, KHS members have been reminiscing about the days of the original Fair, the first of which was held in October 1978, organised by a small committee of interested persons from a couple of community groups. It was declared a great success and became a annual event.

For the first five years, the Fair was held on the Trust Reserve grounds between the RSL Hall and the Kinglake Public Hall. The Goulburn River Folk Band performed on the back of local farm truck, competitors in the 'King of the Mountain' race, carrying 45kg potato bags, started at the hotel and ended at the Fair, and local groups held stalls selling all sorts of food and wares. There were races and folk-dancing for children and a $50 prize for best decorated stall in the 'Pioneering Days' theme. Kinglake's potato-growing industry was featured with a potato peeling competition and a prize for the largest 'spud'.

For those five years, the Fair festivities included dances held on the night before in the two halls, a 'youth' disco in the RSL hall and 'old time' dancing in the Kinglake hall. However, by 1984, the Fair had outgrown the limited space at the Trust Reserve and the decision was made to move to the oval at the Memorial Reserve. The theme for that year was the 'Roaring Twenties' so costumes and stalls decorations were designed to suit. The 'King of the Mountain' race route became a circuit of the oval and Ross White achieved his third successive win. The last event of the day was the annual Tug of War, supervised by Steve Griffiths, and amid much animated cheering, the Netball team won the Women's event and the Kinglake Primary School gents won the Men's.

1984 Promotional Advert - Kinglake Country Fair

The Fair continued for the 15 years with variations on the same formula - an organising committee which arranged entertainment (horse & camel rides, Scottish Pipe band, helicopter & Harley rides, merry-go-round, billy-cart races, bands and line dancing, etc.); participating community groups sending representatives to meetings and each group taking responsibility for one task in the setting up; the three Kinglake schools combining to provide a music and dancing display in centre of circle; and the SES and CFA staging impressive demonstrations. The local MPs attended to present prizes and Mr Spud and Mrs Strawberry were always there to head the school parade and remind everyone that this was a real country Fair.

It was a big effort each year but the benefits were many - it brought everyone together (in this district stretched 13km along the ridge with three separate schools), and it showed visitors what Kinglake was all about. It made us all feel quite proud of our achievement and it raised useful funds for our community groups.

Deidre Hawkins

Kinglake Historical Society

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