Statement released by Winchester Dairyfest Committee

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The volunteer committee responsible for the once prominent and still famous Winchester Dairyfest released a statement to the North Dundas Times on July 29 pleading for public support.

The Committee – which currently has four members and no active chairperson – is seeking volunteers to ensure that Dairyfest can live on, despite two years passing without the traditional event. What caused the difficulties that Dairyfest is facing? The statement points to the increased trouble in finding volunteers.

“The last decade has become increasingly difficult to find committee members and dedicated community volunteers,” the statement reads. “Volunteers are the glue to the event. They come together to raise funds, seek out entertainment, collaborate with local businesses, and work towards making Winchester’s only festival the place to be.”

Dairyfest started as a centennial celebration for the Town of Winchester in 1988. The first year without Dairyfest was 2020, shortly after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the pandemic did not cause the festival’s hiatus.

In December of 2019, before the onset of the pandemic, the Dairyfest Committee released a statement that the 2020 festival would not happen and that the event was taking a break for one year. As a second year approaches with no festival planned, it appears that the impact of COVID-19 may have been felt after all.

“Many local small businesses have been impacted by COVID and we, as a committee, do not believe it is a proper time to be requesting sponsorship from those who are facing uncertainty in their own business,” the statement reads.

Despite the proud signs still displayed at the Winchester Town limits on Boyne Road and St. Lawrence Street advertising Winchester as “Home of Dairyfest”, many residents would surely be surprised to learn that the festival is not gone for good after two years without it.

While the festival itself is not happening this year, the Dairyfest Committee is still hosting community events on a smaller scale such as roller skating on Fridays in the summer from 6-9pm.

However, even these smaller scale events appear to be at risk if community-minded people do not step up to the plate, as the Committee’s statement warns that these events will only take place if funding remains available and if the current dedicated volunteers stay committed to keeping the tradition alive.

For a proud community-minded place like Winchester, the last 17 months of pandemic life have been difficult for residents who enjoy socializing at events such as Dairyfest.

Also popular throughout North Dundas was the annual Meet Me on Main Street event, established in 2017 as a celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday.

The event – which took place on a separate day in each of the towns of Winchester, Chesterville, Morewood, South Mountain, and Hallville – was a place for people to enjoy live entertainment as well as local foods and craft beers from vendors set up along the street.

The event was scheduled for 2020 but was cancelled at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Residents may be wondering how to apply to be a Dairyfest volunteer.

All community members are welcome to volunteer, and anyone interested should get in touch with the Dairyfest Committee through Secretary, Alexandra Donovan, at info@winchesterdairyfest.com.

Further information about Dairyfest and regular updates can also be found through the Dairyfest website at www.winchesterdairyfest.com.

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