Park City Children’s Fair
Back in 1993, Soaring Wings Montessori School held its first Park City Children’s Fair.
The fair was an evolution of another fundraiser the school’s executive director Duna Strachan started five years prior.
"I had started the school in my house with a very small class in my family room," Strachan said during an interview. "The Montessori curriculum is heavily focused on geography, science and learning about the world. I remember talking to my class and they were concerned about the children in Africa who didn’t have homes or a lot of food and so I asked what could we do about it."
it over to them," Strachan said.
One child piped up and said, "We can have a garage sale. That’s what my dad does when he needs money."
So, the school decided to have a garage sale.
"All the kids came up with ideas of what they could bring to sell," Strachan said. "Some wanted to bring books they didn’t read anymore. Someone wanted to bring their old highchair and others wanted to bring used clothes."
That year, the school raised $25, but didn’t know how to get it to organizations such as CARE and UNICEF, two of the leading humanitarian organizations dedicated to fighting world poverty.
"There was no Internet at the time and I didn’t know how to get a hold of them," Strachan said. "I did find someone to give the money and sent it off."
When the school moved to the Park City Library and Education Center, Strachan looked at the west field and wanted to do something with it.
"Years ago, Park City used to have an autumn fair there," she said. "So we thought about taking the garage sale and making it a bigger event. We decided to hold a fair."
The Soaring Wings Montessori School’s 18th Children’s Fair will be held Sunday, June 5, at the Park City Library and Education Center.
The money raised will be donated to a group of organizations collectively known as the Children’s Planet Fund.
The CPF include Recycle Utah, Park City Library, Swaner Nature Preserve, Kimball Art Center, Friends of Animals Utah, Summit County Library, Adopt-A-Native-Elder and the Soaring Wings Montessori School Teacher Enrichment.
"We also sponsor children in Honduras, Paraguay, Sri Lanka, Mail and Niger through Plan International," Strachan said. "Every year, we go through the list and ask ourselves which one would be the best one to send the money to and which ones will put the money to good use."
The fair usually raises between $5,000 and $6,000 each year.
"That’s not a huge amount of money, but the children usually raise it on their own through the fair," Strachan said. "They do have teachers and parents that organize the fair for them, but we do everything we can to make it feel like it is their fair and they’re responsible for it."
The students sell tickets and promote the event, she said.
"They are also the ones who come in and run the booths," Strachan said. "After we figure out how much money we raised, they decide which organization from the Children’s Planet Fund we’ll send it to."
The money is raised through ticket purchases, Strachan said.
"Each attraction will require a certain amount of tickets in order for someone to participate," she said. "That’s how we raise the money."
Money is also raised through a basket auction.
"Each class picked a theme and collected things for their class basket for the auction," Strachan said. "For instance, one class’s theme was ‘Let’s Pretend,’ and another was ‘Outdoor Fun.’ Students brought in things to fit the theme like costumes, gardening items, a bike helmet, until each basket was brimming with stuff."
Teachers and parents then wrapped and decorated the baskets for the auction.
"The baskets (will be) on display at the school so students and parents can bid on them silent auction style," Strachan said. "They will be displayed at the Fair and will likely bring in $1,000 or more."
This year the event will include food, ball-toss games, a duck pond prize booth, pony rides, a giant inflatable slide and Kim’s Cold-Blooded Creatures, which allows kids learn about and hold exotic lizards and insects.
"This year we’ll also have a new attraction a toddler yard and playground," she said. "So, there are things for every age."
Choosing activities is a meticulous process, she said.
"Every year after the fair is over, the school staff sits and counts all the tickets to see which things were most popular," she said. "If something didn’t earn more than $100, we won’t do it again.
"Then we sit down and talk with the parents and volunteers and ask what they loved about the fair and then start planning next year’s fair."
Throughout the years, Strachan has noticed how the fair has helped develop a level of compassion in the Soaring Wings students.
"I usually don’t see our graduates slide into a job that makes a lot of money," she said. "Instead they are always the ones who are looking to do something that makes the world a better place. They’ll travel around and work for Habitat for Humanity or go into the Peace Corps, which is all right with us."
The 18th Annual Park City Children’s Fair will take place at the Park City Library Field, 1255 Park Ave., on Sunday, June 5 from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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