|Walter Broomhead, Leon Mangoff, Kay Broomhead|
In the beginning Walter Broomhead attended a Chapleau Chamber of Commerce meeting in March 1973, and proposed that a two-day Arts and Crafts Fall Fair be held in the Centennial Museum building.
Staunchly supported by his wife Kathleen (Kay), the first arts and crafts fall fair was launched in October 1973, and they have become an integral part of Chapleau life ever since.
CBC Radio personality Leon Mangoff, assisted by Mr. and Mrs. Broomhead officially opened the fair which according to Maggie Costello in the Sault Star, "Everything, just everything, conferred a blessing", even the weather on Chapleau, for the weekend.
"Well over 2,000 people, many of them visitors including a couple all the way from Holland, were all over the building, inspecting some 1,000, possibly even more articles on display and for sale."
Maggie noted that among the displays were "lovely hand embroidered linens, afghans of endless colour and design, paintings in oils and water colour and other media, jewelry, wearables of all kinds for children and adults, novelties for home decorations, hand painted hasty notes pottery and much, much more."
On the lower floor there were displays of family heirlooms as well as hand made quilts and crocheted table covers of intricate design as well as other displays.
Designed by Mr. and Mrs. Broomhead to create community interest, it did not fail, with Maggie writing, "Community interest was all over the place along with a blaze of brilliant colour provided by the displays. It seemed that everyone was in on the act."
At the official opening, Mr. Broomhead welcomed everyone, explained the purpose of the fair, adding he felt it had served its purpose. He paid special tribute to the loyal and hard working committees and hostesses.
Reeve Terry Way-White extended a welcome on behalf of the municipality and offered congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Broomhead and their committees who had produced an outstanding event.
As a sidebar to the official fall fair, Maggie shared one of the "highlights and sidelights" which was dinner at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Broomhead.
Maggie, along with Bud and Tom Welch, owners of the Chapleau Sentinel, and Leon Mangoff and his producer Bob Burt "gathered around the festive board" for a feast.
"As a special treat for the southern guests Kay dished up moose meat and northern goose with all the trimmings with turkey for those who may not like game. We all tied into it with gusto and the southerners really went to town."
Bob and Leon attended the annual Hunters Ball at the Royal Canadian Legion hall, then on Saturday attended the fair as well as going on a tour of Chapleau, a flight with Tony Buchan over the area, and before leaving on Sunday had an early breakfast at the home of Ed McCarthy.
In commenting on the fair, Leon described Chapleau as his "favourite" northern town and felt the fair was a great event. He said that Chapleau was fortunate to have citizens like Mr. and Mrs. Broomhead to give something new to the town and engender so much community participation.
All these years later, truer words were never spoken. It has been an amazing success story for Chapleau.
Fast forward to 2012. Chatting with Phyllis Mcleod, the president of the committee, she told me that this year's fair, scheduled for October 12 and 13 at the Chapleau Recreation Centre, promises to be the biggest ever. All spaces are sold out with artisans coming from far beyond Chapleau to participate. The fair runs from four to nine p.m. on Friday and from 11 a.m. to three p.m. on Saturday. It will be followed by a dinner and dance. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org