Local community groups and organizations gathered on Thursday, Sept. 8 at the community centre in Sylvan Lake for the annual Community Information Fair and BBQ.
This year’s info fair saw 52 registrations for booths and just under 440 individuals through the door. Attendance increased by approximately 180 people for the 2016 fair, with 2015 seeing 260 attendees.
Jody Davis, Volunteer Centre Coordinator for Sylvan Lake Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) was the main organizer for this year’s fair and believes social media had a big impact on the increased attendance.
She added the support from Town Council, who organized and hosted the BBQ portion of the event also played a valued part in the success of the fair.
“We’ve been very fortunate the last two years that council has been so engage in the community information fair,” said Davis. “They did a fantastic job cooking burgers and hot dogs for everyone in attendance. I think it is a greatexhibit of the community coming together.”
“Oh man did they ever cook alot of hamburgers – I don’t think anyone went away hungry.”
Davis stated the overall goal of the fair each year is to draw awareness to all of the fantastic programs and organizations in Sylvan Lake while also engaging the community as a whole.
In addition to added support from Town Council and a stronger reach on social media, organizers emphasized a strong push to reach out to various groups in the community to encourage them to attend. Davis explained organizerswent above and beyond to reach out to various groups this year to draw more awareness to the event.
“We tried really hard to reach out to any and all groups in the communtiy who contribute to social well being because we have many very unique organizations within the community and we wanted to try to engage as many aspossible,” she explained. “It’s all about getting people involved in the community, being active and being able to take advantage of all the wonderful resources we have in Sylvan Lake.”
The info fair is also a valuable tool for promoting the work being done at Sylvan Lake’s own FCSS. This year’s fair saw representation from every branch of FCSS including seniors services, youth services, Lakeview ParentLink and anumber of other outreach supports. With coordinators for the various programs in attendance at the info fair, community members had to chance to ask questions about the services FCSS provides and recieve answers in real time.
One fun feature of the info fair this year was the FCSS treasure map, which asked attendees to use their ‘treasure map’ to visit all of the FCSS booths in order to be entered to win a family fun night basket. The winner of this year’sbasket was Dane Newman. The basket included items such as a Bocce ball set, movies and snacks which Davis explained was designed to promote families spending time together.
“The treasure map was set up to encourage people to go around and see what FCSS resources are available here in Sylvan Lake,” explained Davis. “We have a very inclusive FCSS here in Sylvan Lake so we are very unfortunate –we have a lot of fantastic resources available in our community.
On the Town of Sylvan Lake’s website, the local FCSS describes themselves as an organization who ‘works cooperatively with other social serving agencies in the development of networks, programs and processes that promotesocial well-being and ensure that there is a priority on developing social capital. The goal is to act as a catalyst to build capacity within their organization and community to address social development and service delivery issues in amore focused, coordinated, effective and productive manner.’