The Spring Fair is a major fundraising activity for Mount Barker Waldorf School each year.
A strong tradition at MBWS is that the Spring Fair is organised by the parents of the school as a way of giving something back to the community. Each year the Class Four parents form an organising committee and allocate various activities to each Class, from kindergarten to Class 12.
There is a strong creative element with preparations for the Spring Fair. Fruits are made into preserves, many cakes are made to be sold at the famous German Coffee Shop and parents begin working on a range of handmade crafts that capture the imagination of children of all ages.
As Spring draws near, there is always an air of anxiety as preparation for the fair gathers momentum in the school community. The result is always spectacular array of fabulous food, exhibits, activities, dancing, live music, craft and stalls amidst the wonderful ambience of the school grounds.
Funds raised at the Spring Fair are invested back into the school. In the past they have assisted with financing the music room, the gymnasium and the Living Arts Centre.
"The Spring Fair is a gift from our great community of parents to say thank you to our school staff and teachers for the brilliant curriculum they deliver. A day centred around the love we have for our children (it truly is a child-focused affair) when we invite the wider community into our diverse green garden of a school and share with them the privilege we might, some days, take for granted."
Chair of the Parent School
REFLECTIONS ON THE SPRING FAIR
The editors of the MBWS parent e-newsletter approached foundation parent Tina Whisson with questions about the Spring Fair and its origins. An edited version of Tina's answers reveals how the event has grown over the years.
What was the original thought behind the decision to hold a Spring Fair?
In the early years of the school, especially the first two years, we had very little money from fees or grants. We relied on fundraisers to supplement the very low teacher salaries and buy classroom resources. We also realised it was a good way of bringing the community together in a common endeavour and every family in our small community had a part to play. The parent craft stall was always very popular and the craft mornings held throughout the year in a private home also filled the need for a playgroup and a parent education forum.
What is the tradition behind Class 4 organising the Fair?
At first we called for volunteers, a mixture of parents and teachers, although the fair was always seen as a parent association initiative. After some years it became harder to get volunteers to come forward. In those early years there was a large demand on parent time for working bees, building projects and maintenance tasks and the Spring Fair fell to the same few people who saw the need. Selecting a class that would have the responsibility each year seemed to be the best option. We knew that it needed to be a parent group who had been in the school for some time, who had been able to experience previous fairs and who would carry the fair in a way that demonstrated and supported the underlying philosophy of the school and Waldorf Education.
What are some of the objectives of the fair?
Items for sale/activities are free or affordable; it engages the wider community, supports the school spirit and provides a chance to show off the school. All of those things! For many years a major objective was the raising of money. Our fair has always been a very good fundraiser for the school.
This is because we have always focused on a quality experience that is aesthetic, good value and interesting. Over the years the fair proceeds supported the building fund and enabled essential equipment additions to many projects. It was something that we could rely on.
The activities also reflected the philosophy of the school and in this way contributed to a better understanding of Waldorf Education. We knew from the first year that there were many activities that could have raised a lot more money, but we were committed to supporting fundraising that was ethical and non-exploitative.
In the later years the focus has been more on the community and drawing in the wider public. It is the one time of the year that we all get together to support the school. Many people come to enrol their children in the school after coming to a fair, or hearing about the school from friend who have been to the fair. It is well known in the Hills community and a great show case for our beautiful environment.
What are some of your favourite Spring Fair recollections?
The Morris Dancers, those men in white with flowers on their hats and bells on their feet, opening the Spring Fair each year in the early days at Mt Barker. What exuberance!
The Waldorf Circus, under the 'big top' on the Class One and Two lawn area. That was the strangest lion and elephant that I ever saw! Parent craft - year after year of beautiful Waldorf dolls, veils and toys made with love. How could anyone resist getting that extra little dolly?
A 'German Cake' and coffee, every year. Not to be missed.
My children's anticipation, days before the event, their joy on the day
and their exhausted satisfaction in car on the way home with a little bundle of treasures.Years of counting the money and the late night trip to the safety deposit box at the bank, knowing that another great fair was safely over for the year