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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Western Secondary hosts biggest Pumpkin Fest to date

by Kyle Reid

One of the largest craft fairs in the region rarely fails to disappoint, and last Saturday’s annual Pumpkin Fest at Western Secondary School was no exception.

  In fact, this year’s fair was the school’s most successful Pumpkin Fest to date-particularly notable since the school has hosted the fall fair for more than 30 years.

  This year’s event featured 110 vendor booths, which lined the entirety of the school. Crowds of people made their way through the hallways, while browsing the enormous selection of hand-made crafters’ goods and other items.

  Western Secondary teacher, Samantha Thomas, has been helping to organize the fair for some 23 years. She estimated the school hosted some 6,000-7,000 shoppers last year.

“And it’s busier today,” Thomas noted.

The school’s doors were opened at 8 a.m. for vendors to set up shop, and Thomas said that by 10 a.m., when the fair officially kicked off for the day, the hallways were already full.

  Booths for next year are already in high demand, with some vendors trying to get a leg up and book their spot for next year.

  “Last year, we had one booth not sold,” Thomas said. “This year, we’ve been full since August…[vendors] try to book now, they try to book for next year.”

  But vendors aren’t the only ones returning year-after-year. Thomas explained the annual fair brings back former students and faculty who are always eager to volunteer and continue lending a helping hand with the event.

  “The kitchen is full of former staff members helping bake and cook,” Thomas said. “The volunteers are unbelievable.”

  The event has become the biggest fundraiser of the year for Western Secondary School, helping to pay for school field trips and other extracurricular activities that would normally come out of parents’ pockets. 

  “All of the things that aren’t part of the normal curriculum-it pays for all that extra stuff,” Thomas said.

  Knowing the benefit of the fair, current students are always eager to help. Students set up shop at entrances to accept non-perishable food items and cash donations in support of a local community food organization-whichever one is most in need, Thomas noted.

  Students also organized an Empty Bowls program this year, selling handmade bowls, which will be used as serving pieces for a fundraising meal and education session on hunger and food poverty.


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