Alan Stevens knows almost everything there is to know about the Petone Fair.
He’s been with it ever since it started 21 years ago and has been in charge for the last eight. Mr Stevens is currently hard at work organising the 2012 fair, scheduled for February 18.
The event has expanded to include 350 stalls - all booked in advance. “On a good day we’ll get 35,000 people,” says Mr Stevens.
A 2007 economic study commissioned by Hutt City Council concluded that the event brought in $2.875 million of additional spending into the city. Mr Stevens says that’s pretty good for an event organised by volunteers that raises money for the community.
“The report said its total economic impact was $4.2 million and it created 13.4 fulltime-equivalent jobs. It is one of the most significant summer events in Hutt City.”
He says organising the fair has become a sophisticated operation. The club pays $5500 to Hutt City Council for a traffic management plan. But he says the council is very supportive, providing services such as waste management, street cleaning and public toilets free of charge.
Technology is a big help, as site bookings are now done almost entirely by Internet and e-mail. He says stallholders pay a fee of $90 which remains the club’s only source of income. Mr Stevens says charitable groups can apply to a charitable trust for payment of the fee.
Mr Stevens says profits are put back into Rotary and community projects. “Every year we commit funds to Britannia house and Te Omanga Hospice. We also assist the Thumbs Up Trust which helps young people who had physical or intellectual disabilities.”
Mr Stevens joined Petone Rotary in 1970 when he opened the suburb’s first travel agency. After selling the business eight years ago, the then club president noticed Mr Stevens had more time on his hands. So he was put in charge of the fair, a position he’s held ever since.
He says his business experience, combined with 28 years doing administration for Athletics New Zealand, helps him cope with the demands of fair organisation.
However, Mr Stevens admits the job means holidays in January and February are out of the question.
But the results make the sacrifices worthwhile. “We raise money for charity, while the fair also helps to publicise the businesses and attractions of Petone.”