a fair deal

Old Woodie Plate Camera c1900 by Robert lansdale Spring Fair 2014

Toronto. From the very start of our society, we held fairs. Initially to allow members more access to rarities, and later to also augment our treasury since the fairs provided steady revenue allowing us to bring in speakers while keeping the membership fees low. We also encouraged our members to use free tables at each monthly meeting.

Initially we held two day fairs each spring in various venues under different volunteers.  As the daily fees increased, we were forced to move locations – halls, hotels, arenas, etc. – all where options. As the society matured it had to cut back the fairs to a single spring day.

Under the guidance of Larry Boccioletti, a new fall fair was started with a specific focus on photography students.  Larry began holding a one day show in his own backyard each summer. A few years after his death, we resurrected this show in his memory as our trunk sale, held outdoors each summer, first at the Soccer Centre and later at the Trident Hall.

We spent some years at the Lions Bingo Hall in Etobicoke until the provincial government decided to help out the bingo folk prompting many halls to close doors or repurpose as office space as our hall did to our shock one Sunday fair day when we found the wide open hall all cluttered with the beginnings of partitions into offices.

We moved north to the new Soccer Centre for a number of years. A bus service was started between the Kipling Subway station and the Soccer Centre. While the price was right, we had to wait until the soccer schedule was finalized before we could confirm the date of our next event. As we were on the playing field, special steps were mandatory to protect the artificial grass including thick boards under table legs. Eating on the field was also verboten and if the kitchen forgot us, we were out of luck for food. We finally found the Trident Hall location and moved back on the TTC line eliminating any need for a special bus service.

In the early years, some others branched out and offered fairs too, always careful to avoid colliding with our show dates. In recent years, we have taken a shot at an Image Show, moving the location downtown to the Arts & Letters Club on Elm Street. The team who run the fairs has been in place for many years now making the setup, admissions, and take down much simpler. Advertising has shifted, sometimes helping us, sometimes not. Parking has been free for many years, and recently students with school ID can get in free too!

The shows have evolved with a growing emphasis on user and studio and darkroom gear, Digital equipment has become common mixed in with lots of film and film cameras. In spite of the shift to digital, there are still film, glass plate, and antique items offered. Well worth the Sunday outing each spring and fall.

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