The extremely hilarious (no pressure!) writer, author & mother, Kate Hunter has written my favourite post of the week. About school fetes.
“Spring has sprung. The magpies are swooping, the waxing salons are busy, and if you’ve got school-age children, you’ll notice the newsletter has grown to something resembling the Yellow Pages. It’s fete season, and it’s not for the faint-hearted. Thanks to the Kevin Rudd Memorial Multi-Purpose Centre being built on our kids’ school oval, we have a fete reprieve this year, so I have time to reflect on this normally annual event.I am not the fete convenor. Just as well. I would send the P&C broke if I was responsible for anything that involved actual organizational skills. However, I stuck my hand up in 2007 to handle ‘communications’. I saw this as a job suited to my skill set and more importantly, would not require me to attend any meetings.
I was wrong on both counts. Sure I can string a sentence together, but the job as editor of the Fete News (and companion blog) needs negotiation and diplomatic skills more suited to the Middle Eastern peace process than a primary school fete. And the meetings came to me, all day and all night. It amazes me that fetes happened at all before in the days before email.
I’ve learned many lessons in my years as Fete Communications Officer. And I am happy to share them with you now.
• In the months preceding the event, there is no person more powerful in a school community than the Fete Convenor. No one is more aware of this than the Convenor herself. Put her number in your mobile so you know who’s calling and prepare yourself accordingly.
• Once you have a job on the fete, it will be yours until your youngest child leaves the school. It is easier to get out of Guantanamo Bay than it is to offload the fairy floss stall, so make absolutely sure you are happy to do it for the duration.
• If you have ever worked in the accountancy field, keep it a deadly secret unless you want to be in charge of Fete Finance. When the marquees are coming down and everyone else is kicking back with a hamburger and a warm Chardy, you’ll be counting 10 cent pieces in the library.
• If you have worked in the media, beware. If there is the slightest possibility you have ever met, or even walked past anyone remotely famous, you will be expected to invite them to officially open the event. Or, at the very least, have them sign something for the auction.
• Having a baby is an excellent (and possibly the only) excuse for getting out of stall-duties. I suspect many children have been conceived for precisely this reason.
• If, despite your best efforts, you find yourself in command of a stall, be sure to recruit your helpers early and lock them in. As the day approaches, ‘volunteer trading’ becomes rife, with people being lured from ‘Homemade Gifts’ to ‘Sweet Treats’ with promises of bonuses paid in fudge.
• Face painting is a good option for the artistically gifted parent. This is not me. I can manage Spider-Man, but one year a little girl wanted to be a horse and I made her look like a poo. She cried and I had to refund her $2.
• The food selection at school fetes is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Tapas, nori rolls, laksa, barbecued organic goat with gremolata in mountain bread … it’s all there. But most popular food stall will always be the one flogging sausages in bread.
• Few people make jam these days, so if you do, be prepared to crank up production until your kitchen looks like the factory floor at IXL.
• Position, position, position. The fair real estate market is ruthless. If you are running the strawberries-and-cream stall, you do not want to be west-facing unless you have cut a deal with the jam people (see above).
• No matter how crap you are in the kitchen, you will be expected to bake something. You will need to make an effort. There is no fear greater than that of seeing your gluten-free banana loaf on the ‘make us an offer’ stand at the end of the day.
• Do not attempt to buy a cake at Coles and pass it off on your own. Any cake stall convenor worth her cream of tartar can sniff a supermarket job at 100 paces.
• Constructing the cake box is more difficult than making a 12 tiered sponge to put inside it.
• If you are donating second hand books, be sure any less-than-highbrow titles do not have your name written inside. You do not want it known that ‘Love In The Stables’ belonged to you, especially if it’s well-worn in sections.
• At some point, you will wonder why the P&C does not ask every family to contribute $100, skip the fete and be done with it.
Do you love or loathe the school fete? Does your school do anything differently? My littlest does not start until next year, so I’m up to my ears in coconut ice for a long time yet.