For small towns, community gatherings can be a big deal. This proved true for the 20th annual Fruitland Family Fun Day at Fruitland Community Park on Sept. 14.

Activities for kids included a giant inflatable slide, a carousel ride, fishing games, an obstacle course face painting and laser tag among others.

Lining Southwest Third Street were more than 50 vendors, including local businesses seeking to drum up new business and several food trucks keeping fun seekers fed.

Kimberly Burgess, executive director of Fruitland Chamber of Commerce, described Family Fun Day as a means of giving back to Fruitland residents.

“Fruitland Family Fun Day is the chamber’s main event that we give back to the community,” according to Burgess. “It’s an all-free event that features entertainment throughout the day. Vendors, food trucks, activities for the children from young ages all the way up to teens. All of our activities are free and it’s a way for us to give back to the community and say thank you for your support that they’ve given the chamber of commerce every year.”

Burgess says Family Fun Day’s roots trace back to the 1970s, when the original Chamber of Commerce started it. After they disbanded, an organization called Fruitland Community Events took over organizing the event before handing it back to the Chamber when they re-established themselves in 2017.

Burgess describes the difference between this and a county fair event as refreshing.

“I think the thing that’s kind of exciting is that when people come down to like a fair or something, they think, ‘Oh I’m gonna have to spend a lot of money.’ So when our children come down and people from our community come down to Fruitland Family Fun Day, unless they’re buying food… or buying something from a vendor, all of the other activities are free.”

One key difference is the bubble balls which were present. Burgess cites those as costing $20 elsewhere to check out. At Family Fun Day, it’s no cost to patrons.

According to Chamber Chairman Matt Frye, the event draws thousands of people throughout the day. He said the additional food trucks this year were meant to keep them there longer.

“Usually we have a couple thousand come in and out throughout the day,” said Frye. “On average there usually a couple hundred here, but people come, they leave …”

Several hundred volunteer hours went into setting up this year’s Fun Day, including upwards of 40 hours of Frye’s own time.

“Between everyone involved, between getting vendors set up and different activities for the kids, we’ve got tons of activities. We couldn’t have done this without our sponsors.”

The chamber thanks St. Alphonsus and St. Luke health organizations as presenting sponsors, as well as the 40 additional sponsors contributing a total of over $14,000 plus all the volunteers for making this year’s Family Fun Day possible.

The next big event on the Chamber’s list is Christmas on Main Street, originating at Fruitland Community Park on the first weekend of December.

To keep up with Chamber events, visit fruitlandchamber.wildapricot.org.

Corey EVAN  is a reporter at the Independent-Enterprise and Argus Observer. He can be reached at (208) 642-5258 or by emailing coreye@argusobserver.com. To comment on this story, go to www.argusobserver.com.

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