"Way back in the beginning, someone came to the fair meeting and suggested we bring in some rides and have Coca-Cola sponsor us," said Duna Strachan, executive director of Soaring Wings. "At that time, we asked ourselves if we really wanted the fair to be like that, and we decided not to. We wanted to host a small-community event and we still keep that in mind today."
The fair, which will be held this year on Sunday, June 1, at City Park from 10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m., will still include activities for children of all ages including, games, food, live music, prizes, a magic show, pony rides, a giant slide, a bounce house, Kim's Cold Blooded Creatures and a petting zoo.
"The fair has always been about pony rides, inflatables and Kim," Strachan said with a laugh. "We have to have all those things in the fair."
New this year will be a bicycle rodeo and an international food garden.
"The rodeo will start off the fair and children are invited to bring their bikes and participate in an obstacle course," Strachan said. "The first 30 kids will get a free bike helmet."
The food garden will feature an array of foods from around the world including kosher dishes, pizza, cheesy bread and more, she said.
"Another new idea is if you bring a pack of new diapers, you will get a free ticket to the giant slide," Strachan said. "The diapers will be donated to a shelter, which doesn't usually have enough diapers for the babies of mothers who go to the shelter."
While Soaring Wings makes sure children are involved in every aspect of the fair, the parents are the ones who help make it happen, Strachan explained.
"Every year we get a new crop of parents who come in and they just want to improve on everything we do," she said.
One of the things the parents do is sponsor the cost of the fair so all the money the children raise through ticket sales can support organizations through the Children's Planet Fund, Strachan said.
The Children's Planet Fund is focused on organizations working to make the world a better place for children and includes Recycle Utah, Park City Library, Summit County Library, Adopt-a-Native Elder, Friends of Animals, Kimball Art Center, Swaner Nature Preserve.
It has sponsored also children in Paraguay, Honduras, Ecuador, China, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Mali and Niger through Plan International.
"This started back before the fair was established," Strachan said. "It was the end of the school year and we had talked about people in other parts of the world who might not have a home or enough to eat."
One of the students in the class said whenever her dad needed money, he would hold a garage sale.
"That very first year, we had a garage sale in my neighbor's yard and made $25," Strachan said. "And every year since then, the sale grew."
1994, after Soaring Wings moved to the Park City Library and Education Center on Park Avenue, the first Children's Fair was held on the huge grassy area, and about 15 years ago, the event was moved to City Park.
"The children still choose the organizations where they want to donate the money," Strachan said. "As soon as we know how much money we have raised, they sit down together and look at the list of groups and decide which ones they will donate to this year.
"They review what groups we have donated to in the past and decide if our money is being used well and if the organization supports our school in some way and if our money is making a difference," she said. "Sometimes we eliminate groups and sometimes we add groups."
After the students decide how much money they will give to each organization, they make a budget.
"Once the budget is approved, they take checks around town," Strachan said.
Soaring Wings students' ages range from 1 ½ to 12, and the children that make the budgeting decisions are ages 6 to 12.
"We want the children to own this project," Strachan said. "They design the posters, advertise and sell the tickets, so they can feel like they are making the decisions."
Most importantly, the fair and other project the students do, teach them how they can make a difference in their community and "beyond," Strachan said.
"Over the years, I so often hear from graduates who have gone off into the world to work for charitable organizations or choose careers where they can make a difference in the world," she said. "They think and act globally and I like to think the work they have done in the fair has led them to these paths."
The Park City Children's Fair, presented by Soaring Wings International Montessori School, will be held on Sunday, June 1, at City Park, from 10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. For more information contact Lina Singleton at 435-200-8247 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.soaringwings.org.