Rochester Fair gives salute to the troops

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107th Rochester Annual Fair commemorates military, veterans with "Salute the Troops" theme

Hundreds of people flocked to Rochester to play games, watch the parade and honour Canadian soldiers at the 107th Rochester Annual Fair Aug. 11.

The annual fair by the Rochester and District Ag Society features attractions including a parade through the hamlet, barrel racing, a jamboree and more. The theme of this year’s fair was “Salute the Troops,” with parade floats and fair attractions showcasing the theme with military apparel. The lead parade float also featured two veterans in Jim Klassen of Westlock and Jim Turnbull of Jarvie.

Fair director Penny Joseph said the theme was a way of paying thanks to the sacrifices of soldiers.

“With everything that’s going on in the world, they sacrifice so much being away from their families,” Joseph said. “Missing birthdays and births of children and obviously the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. We thought it’d be nice to say thank you.”

Val Breitkreutz participated in the Father’s House Church float in the parade. She said the organization makes sure to participate in the fair every year.

“It brings the community together and once a year, you all get together during the summer and reconnect with people,” Breitkreutz said. “It’s just overall good for the community.”

Rochester School and Tawatinaw Valley Preschool also participated in the parade, with children riding a float they helped decorate. Rochester School teacher Melody Shologan said being part of the parade and fair was enjoyable.

“It’s an excellent time to get together, have good fellowship with each other, show support for the businesses and generally have a good time,” she said.

This year’s fair also had a couple of new features, with obstacle courses set up for lawnmower riding and RC cars. Joseph said it was a way to try to appeal to more youth and young adults at the fair.

“We were missing the 16-25 year olds,” Joseph said. “With the bouncy castle, the petting zoo and the kids games, we have the smaller ones, but we don’t have the bigger guys.”

Allison Ottewell attended the fair Aug. 11 and said it was her first since she was a kid. She participated in the chilli cook-off at the fair and said the event is one of the best of its kind in the area.

“It’s fantastic. I find it is one of the best ones around,” Ottewell said. “This one truly has that down-home feel and really has something for everyone.”

Ottewell said it is the friendly people that gave the Rochester Fair the down-home feel, adding it is important to keep events like this going.

“Small town community spirit seems to be something of a dying breed, so I really wanted to come out, support the community, make a killer batch of chilli and have a great day with my family,” Ottewell said.

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