One of the biggest attractions at Kempenfest each year is the annual antique show. Each year members of the Barrie Optimist Club host a show of antiques and collectibles at the Centennial parking lot.
“We’ve been involved since Molson Park as a food vendor,” said club member and antique show organizer, Maurice Keogh. “Back then it was corned beef from an army tent.” Around 18 years ago the club added the antique show component to Kempenfest. The Optimist Antique Show has grown over the years to attract 40 exhibitors from all over Ontario. While 30 are regulars to Kempenfest, each year brings a few new dealers.
“We don’t allow reproductions,” said Keogh. “It’s collector items – everything from jewelry to old water pumps, farm scales that have been made into coffee tables, harvest tables, blanket boxes, corner cupboards.” And there are lots of home-made toys too. The Optimist Antique Show also includes items such as old church windows that have been refurnished to incorporate mirrors, and the very collectible Pepsi, and beer signs. Once the antique show is organized members turn their attention to another Kempenfest fundraising venture – a food booth. The Optimist food booth features french-fries, ice cream, pop and water. “You know what the biggest seller is? Water,” said Keogh.
The club’s 35 members each take four-hour shifts staffing the food booth during Kempenfest. All of the funds raised from both Kempenfest events go to support local youth. The Optimist club was responsible for starting minor soccer in this area, a sport which has grown to encompass 3,000 children. “We started Bowl for Millions for Big Brothers” said Keogh who called it one of the club’s largest projects.
In addition, the Optimist club supports three scout troops, junior golf programs for people who are unable to afford lessons and chess tournaments at schools.
Occasionally the club brings in a special guest speaker to talk with students. George Chuvalo, a former Canadian heavy-weight boxer, came to Barrie to speak about the dangers of using drugs.
To inquire about vendor space at the 2016 show, please contact:
Optimist Club of Barrie
P.O. Box 307, Barrie, Ont. L4M 4T5