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Overworked and burning out: a plea for help from Aldergrove Fair volunteers

‘The tanks are empty’

If the annual Aldergrove fair can’t find enough people to help prepare for next year’s event, the 111-year-old Lower Mainland tradition that draws thousands may have to be canceled, the all-volunteer board of directors is warning.

Right now, there simply aren’t enough people working on Aldergrove Fair Days, and they are overworked and burning out, according to Robin McIntosh, who just stepped down as president of the fair, new president Kylene Shannon, and long-time board member Mike Robinson.

A special general meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday Nov. 14 to recruit members, team leaders and directors.

McIntosh estimates organizing the annual community fair requires between 12 and 15 people, “and we’ve got about five.”

It means the small group of volunteers has to take on multiple roles and put in longer hours, McIntosh told the Langley Advance Times on Tuesday, Oct. 24

READ ALSO: That’s a wrap: another successful Aldergrove Fair

“Each year, more and more of the overall tasks are being performed by fewer and fewer team leaders,” he said.

Instead of a few hours a week, preparing for this year’s summer fair in July required seven days a week and long hours every day, McIntosh reported.

In a “last ditch” effort to save the fair, he said the board has decided to make a public appeal for help.

”If there were enough people, we could split up the tasks and we figure that, if you spent two hours a week, you could handle one of these roles, which we don’t feel is that much,” McIntosh commented.

Shannon, the new fair president, said they need at least “four to five” additional people to help share the workload and learn from experienced volunteers like McIntosh and Robinson.

“We can’t have a fair without more people stepping up in the community to help,” Shannon warned.

Shannon pointed out she, personally, has many other commitments that make it hard to put in the long hours required when there aren’t enough volunteers.

“I’m a hockey coach, a hockey player, a mom, a realtor,” Shannon noted.

“I sit on other volunteer organizations, plus the fair. The list goes on.”

Without enough people to help, it is “next to impossible” for her to devote the extra hours, she explained.

Long-time director Mike Robinson said he is looking at an “extremely busy year” at work, and he can’t spare as much time.

READ ALSO: Volunteers vital part of Aldergrove Fair reaching 111 years

While the fair was able to find close to the number of volunteers it needed for the days the fair was open this year, Robinson said they are short people who can handle the essential advance planning.

“The type that we’re missing now, is the volunteers who are ready to work for basically a year to put on a fair,” Robinson advised.

“More and more [responsibilities] sort of ended up in the hands of just a very small number of people and those people are effectively burning themselves out,” Robinson said, and he includes himself among the “mental fatigue” casualties.

However, Robinson, like Shannon and McIntosh, believes the situation is “solvable” if enough people step up.

But if they don’t, “if we can’t get enough people to take personal responsibility for each of the various tasks, and there’s about a dozen [we need], then it just can’t happen. The tanks are empty.”

Location and time of the special Tuesday, Nov. 14 meeting has yet to be announced.

In the meantime, anyone interested in getting involved can email, or contact through the fair website at or Facebook at

Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Best recognized for my resemblance to St. Nick, I’m the guy you’ll often see out at community events and happenings around town.
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