Wynstones - Advent Fair

The Advent Fair is an exciting event in our calendar, one where we can not only celebrate the magic of Advent but also enjoy the opportunity to work together as a community. The Fair is open to the general public and as such is a wonderful showcase for the school.

If you’re new and have not been to an Advent Fair before, you’re in for a treat!

The Fair will be held on the Saturday before the first Advent Sunday (typically the last Saturday in November) and will have all the usual offerings, such as 50 (+) stalls, Café, Soup and Crumble lunches, Waffles, Storytelling, Candle Dipping, Wreath Making, Silent Pond, Craft activities for adults and children, Puppet Show and much, much more.

Background

In the past the running of the Advent Fair was left to the parents of Class 4. This proved to be quite a burden for them - especially if the parent body was quite small. It also led to a lot of ‘re-inventing of the wheel’ each year (and quite a bit of frustration!). It was decided, therefore, to set up a core team of interested parents across all classes to hold the Fair. This team now consists of 2 overall co-ordinators and ‘Guardians’ who hold each role or activity. For instance we have Guardians for outside stalls, car-parking, decorations, set up and clear-up, raffle, children’s activities and so on - these Guardians perform the tasks that those roles entail alongside a team of helpers. Other Guardians for activities like Advent Wreaths, Snow Queen, Crystal Cave etc. simply act as mentors for those classes who are taking on those activities. The Catering Guardians do a mixture of both! Guardians are typically asked to take on the role for at least 3 years. Many of the current Guardians have been enjoying it so much they’ve been doing it for a lot longer than that! 

This system has now been in place for 5 years and is working extremely well as it allows people to ‘play to their strengths’ and choose roles inside of the Fair that most suit them. Guardians love being part of a team - we meet approximately 4 times a year - and seeing the whole Fair take shape as a community. We are a lively, creative and committed group who love what we do and who love to expand with new members coming on board all the time!

Class IV's Role

Even though Class IV are no longer asked to hold the whole Fair we have consistently had feedback from previous Class IVs that the act of taking on a BIG challenge and ‘going through the eye of the needle’ together is extremely valuable. There’s something about where Class IV are in their journey together that means that this makes a lot of sense - not least in relation to the bonding of the parent body. This foundation of bonding as a class proves extremely useful for future years spent together. In recognition of this we have deliberately created a bigger remit for Class IV - namely to create and run the Soup and Crumble Café and to provide the majority of the person-power for the site clear-up at the end of the day.

The Advent journey through the classes

Each stall / activity includes set-up, running the stall / activities and clear up at the end.

Kindergarten - Pocket Lady

Kindergarten Parents wrap up small gifts and place them into the pockets of a special apron. A Kindergarten parent then walks around school wearing the apron inviting small children to pay 50p and choose a surprise from one of the pockets. 

Kindergarten - Pocket Money Stall

Small children are invited to spend their precious pocket on little treasures lovingly made by Kindergarten Parents at Pocket Money Stall. 

Class I - Silent Pond

A magical dell where you sit by a candlelit pond. Come and light a walnut candle and float it on the pond. Make a silent wish and be enchanted by the beautiful lyre music.

Class II - Crystal Cave

Children are invited to don hard hat, overalls and gloves, take up a little hammer and crawl through the cave to excavate a ‘precious’ stone from the cave wall. 

Class III - Decorations and Signage

This year we are giving the Snow Maiden a break and asking Class 3 to be in touch of decorating the school as well as help put up signage around the site.

Class IV - Soup & Crumble

Using fruit and vegetables from the school garden, contributions from the harvest table and veg sourced by Class IV parents from local suppliers, this cafe provides a good healthy vegetarian lunch at the fair.

Class IV - Clear-Up Team

This is also run by Class IV Parents. After a wonderful day of songs, activities and socializing, we need to pack everything away back in the Advent Fair cupboards and leave the school tidy and ready for lessons the coming week. Other parents help out but Class IV hold the main remit for this. 

Class V - Homemade & Handmade

Inspired by children in Lower School and even their own children’s craft making skills, Class V parents create craft items, baked items etc. to be sold on the Homemade & Handmade stall.

Class VI - Wreath Making

Fair go-ers are invited to create an Advent Wreath from scratch. Foliage, items from nature, candles etc. all provided. Class VI parents set all this up and help guide the process.

Class VII - Candle Dipping

Fair go-ers enter a magical quiet space and gently make their own candles using the candle dipping process.

Class VIII - Waffle

Delicious waffles for sale - typically offered with icing sugar or nutella.

Upper School - Café

Upper School parents bake delicious homemade cake to go with tea and coffee served by Upper School parents and pupils.

Practical advice for making food

  • plan ahead - if you can prepare food in advance, this should make things easier later
  • wash your hands and any equipment you are using in hot soapy water
  • keep food out of the fridge for the shortest time possible
  • even if people are waiting to eat, don't reduce cooking times
  • always make sure food is properly cooked before you serve it
  • keep raw and ready-to-eat foods apart
  • do not use food past its ‘use by’ date
  • know what is in the ingredients so information about allergens can be provided (e.g. provide a ’contains nuts’ label for cakes)

http://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/caterers/food-hygiene/charity-community-groups  

Car Parking

With large numbers of visitors, some coming to Wynstones for the first time, we need volunteers to help ensure people know where to park their cars and then get back to the Fair.  Winter-time means we can’t park on the field at the back of the school and allowing people to find a space somewhere along one of the side-roads near to the school would surely make us unpopular locally (and no doubt be in breach of something or other too). So we use the carpark at St Peters just down the road for most of our visitors, in addition to our school car park itself.  St Peters is about a 5 minute walk from Wynstones but we also provide a minibus shuttle for drivers after dropping off all passengers at school car park.

So we need volunteers at Wynstones Entrance to welcome visitors, and guide cars to a space or usually to St. Peters, and at St Peters to make sure our visitors know where to park and where to catch the minibus back to school.  We need about six marshalls in total, at Wynstones and St Peters and ask our volunteers to do a 2 hour slot, so with Friday-night, early morning set-up and evening departure, we need a few more than twenty volunteers in all.

Hence parking becomes quite a commitment in itself and to share this load, we ask each Class to find two people.  Actually it’s not as bad as you might think - and we try to make our volunteers more comfortable by supplying hot drinks and hot food (e.g. a bacon roll).

We need to pay for using the external car-parks and for the minibus shuttle, making this one of the bigger costs for the fair, so as an experiment in 2014, we offered parking at Wynstones itself to full cars (4 people) for a £2 parking fee.

However we would like visitors come by public transport; so as another experiment in 2014, we offered a free hot drink at the fair if you show your bus ticket.

Decoration Team

The decoration team create a theme each year for the Fair and decorate around it. Every year the school is highly complimented for the magical atmosphere created around this event. This is largely down to the wonderful decorations created by the decoration team. If you like design, crafts, etc. this team is for you!

Setting Up Team

Each year, for the short duration of the Advent Fair, the school is transformed by our community in a wonderful venue full of magic and wonder. This overnight transformation is made possible by the effort of our Students, Parents and Staff alike. The Set-Up and Clear-Up Team tries to make the whole process of shifting whole classroom contents across the grounds more fun and less frustrating … and we seem to have a good track record so far! When it comes to the end of the Fair at 4:00pm, Class 4 and any other willing parents will converge to the Verandah at the back of the main building. There will ensue what is usually a fairly short but intense bout of Clear-Up activities interspersed with hot drinks, cakes and laughters. To make things easier, Class 4 is only expected to clear up the “common areas” of the school and not the individual activities’ sites.

Catering

We aim to help all the classes providing food for the Advent Fair, let them know what needs to be done, what has been learnt from previous years and ensure that they feel empowered to make it their own. We order the food and drink in a coordinated way to ensure that as well as being good value, most of the food is organic/biodynamic and  locally or sustainably sourced. We also ensure that all the disposables used throughout the catering on site are compostable ...and composted.

What the money raised is used for?

The Fair is the biggest fundraiser for the school year and proceeds in the past have gone towards:

  • The finishing of the Cedron Hall
  • Updating heating and painting in the Lodge
  • Sports equipment, basketball kit
  • The outdoor woodwork area
  • New signage at the front of the school
  • Improvements to the IT systems
  • New kitchen equipment such as waffle machines, cheese toastie machines, soup urns etc.

And much, much more!

Join us?

Whether you enjoy design, decorating, cooking, crafts or organisation in general, we’d love to hear from you. 

Simply email Theresa (“T”) at t.sansome@btinternet.com or phone on 01453 834297.