Pattaya The Jesters 10th Anniversary Children’s Fair

Mike Franklin

WOW! What an amazing Jesters 10th Anniversary Children’s Fair & Family Day it was! The Fair report headline in Pattaya Mail 2006 was ‘It goes from strength to strength’ - well we know how true that was then - it certainly still is, and so it was on Sunday 9th September at the Diana Garden Resort & Driving Range for the families, for the children, and for 250 needy kids from the charities we support who came for a fun day out. Seeing them all in their colorful ‘Care for Kids’ event shirts smiling and having a great time was a real highlight.

The Diana Driving Range was in great condition and luckily, in true Jesters tradition, the weather was kind all day. It was sunny and hot in the morning and then overcast with a light breeze in the afternoon. So there was nothing to deter the enthusiasm of the organizers, the eighty-eight stallholders, the performers entertaining throughout the day, and the many, many families and fairgoers that came by.

Jester Kevin (‘Mighty Mitch’) set it all up at the Diana Garden Resort & Driving Range for the sixth consecutive year, with his genial patience, efficiency and good humor. Riding shotgun with clipboard was Wild Bill Freeman keeping the Fair administration tight. The Diana Driving Range is a large enough venue with ideal facilities to stage a major outdoor event on this scale. It was the best layout yet, skillfully designed to welcome fairgoers and make it easy for them to shop the stalls, relax in the shaded areas, and enjoy a wide variety of food stalls and watch the activities.

The demonstrations and stage performances were enhanced this year by a new 12m x 12m ante-stage and a clearly audible sound system. The families came in droves all day and the overwhelming sight was the multitude of happy children having fun and displaying the 2007 colorful event shirt. After all, it was their day. There was something for everyone to enjoy throughout, including the Children’s Tug-of-War followed by the Children’s Raffle, drawn at 4 pm with a fantastic range of prizes to be won.

The action packed day began at 10 am with the Opening Ceremony. Lewis ‘Woody’ Underwood, Jesters Charity Drive committee chairman, gave a warm welcoming speech acknowledging the enormous support from all the sponsors and especially the record breaking level of corporate sponsorship supporting the 10th Anniversary Jesters Charity Drive. Corporate sponsorship that included our first Diamond (400,000 baht) sponsor Steve J. Lake, plus 28 Platinum, 14 Gold, 22 Silver & 72 Bronze sponsors and 40 Pledge Program sponsors. A total of just over 6 million baht, with Children’s Fair and with the Party Night results still to be added.

Due credit was afforded by name to the honorary Jester committee members who contribute essential skills, expertise and their time freely, to make the fund raising effort of ‘Care for Kids’ successful. The ceremonial ribbon was cut by Mayor Niran Wattanasartsathorn, Sopin Thappajug (managing director of the Diana Group and generous host to the Children’s Fair), Lewis Underwood (chairman, Jesters ‘Care for Kids’ Charity Drive committee) and Graham Macdonald (JCD corporate sponsorship director). Mayor Niran gave a welcoming address and the 2007 Jesters Children’s Fair was a ‘Go’.

A colorful marching band from a Pattaya School 3 played the National Anthem and performed with precision and enthusiasm to open and conclude the opening ceremony.

It would not be a Jesters Children’s Fair without Jesters MC proudly bringing on the Harleys, so four immaculate gleaming machines with engines at spine tingling high throttle concluded the ceremony.

Then it was over to emcees Neil Smith and Jester Poodle Pete (in Thai) to keep things going at pace throughout the day, and they did just that. The lovely kids from the Fountain of Life released colorful balloons and it was time for the activities to begin.

The Children’s Variety Show was first up at 10.30 am featuring many of the 140 kids from the Fountain of Life giving two beautiful performances representing the very young and the older kids attending the Center. 50 orphans from the Ban Jing Jai orphanage, 30 children from the Mercy Center & Khopai Kindergarten, APEC 2003 and musicians & singers from the Redemptorist School for the Blind completed that first set. By then it was high noon and time for lots of exciting children’s games enthusiastically organized by Linden Phanpho from ISE with fellow teacher Brett Stone from St. Andrews.

The games were run in front of the stage with many prizes donated by Double A Logistics, Pattaya International Ladies Club and lots of lovely lollies from Robert ‘Scar’ Taylor. That was just the first of three children’s games sessions organized throughout the day.

The Variety Show then continued with fifteen members of the Taekwondo branch of the International Martial Arts School demonstrating their skills. The smallest student, diminutive red belt Samm Franklin, showed that size is not essential to be able to break a wood block with a running flying side-kick.

After another games session the variety show continued with live music from the Regent’s ‘Through the Dawn’ band and APEC 2003.

More children’s games followed, some with great Superman costumes made by ladies from PILC, until it was time for the presentation of bicycles, donated by Mark & Jack Gorda to the ‘Best of Class’ kids at the Fountain of Life in memory of Chris Kays.

The ever popular Climbing Wall, Bouncy Kingdom and Horseshoe Point pony rides were busy throughout the day and the new attraction from 2006, the cotton candy stalls, were a huge success with an extra stall sponsored this year by Capt. Steve to meet anticipated demand.

The Children’s Activity area was the best yet providing the most fun for the younger ones. Primarily organized by the local international school communities, these stalls featured all sorts of fun and games. Staff, students and parents from Garden International School, St Andrews International School, The Regent’s School and the International School Eastern Seaboard turned out in force to support the ‘Care for Kids’ Charity Drive, and ensure fun for everyone. A star attraction was the Regent’s ‘Penalty Shoot-out’ and the ever popular face painting.

This year the games accent was on ‘Secret’ with secret numbers, secret color wheel, secret lollipops, secret dips and lots more.

The Kids did not go hungry either, as the Fountain of Life had set up mess tents providing a ‘fine dining’ facility for more than 500 children to enjoy. Far more meals than the Fountain of Life Sisters and staff normally prepare for kids at the Center. For the fairgoers there were some 18 food stalls offering a wide variety of Western and Asian food & snacks and something to tantalize every palate.

Meanwhile, the professional entertainers were back on stage and then it was time for the children in age groups to ‘take the strain’ in the exciting and well matched Tug-O-War.

The Children’s Raffle followed and featured 22 draw prizes, worth over 60,000 baht, generously sponsored by Pattaya Sports Club, Tahitian Queen, Franklin Family, Diana Group, Pattaya Trader, Capt. Steve Ponter & the Double A Logistics team. The Children’s raffle raised over 120,000 baht largely due to the sterling work of student sales teams from ISE and the Regent’s, and Double ‘A’ Logistics staff. Bernie Tuppin and I sweated it out all day, ably assisted by my family team of Tukata, Pui & Bibi, my wife Banjob sorting the stubs, young Samm pulling the tickets in the Raffle draw and Jeff Paladeau presenting the prizes in exactly the right order. Big Jester Ronny had fun starring in the prize presentation ‘action photo-calls’ with each of the winners.

Raffle ticket sales during the day were encouraged with a variety of incentive vouchers supplied by the Minor Food Group, courtesy of John Heineke, redeemable at Dairy Queen, Swensen’s, Burger King, Sizzler and The Pizza Company. CDs, posters & T shirts signed by Tata Young also helped to boost sales. Look your name on the list of Children’s raffle prizes, sponsors and winners.

The final period of the fair was left to live music from Annie’s band and Pop’s Pattaya All Stars, a final tour of the stalls and, for the organizers and stallholders, a well deserved visit to the Jesters beer tent for a cold Heineken or Tiger beer, or the Blue Parrot stall for a few chilled Margaritas, assuming there were any left at that late stage. Our thanks to all the ‘beer donors’ providing cans for the beer garden valued at 190,000 baht. (See Donor list). Noticeably, donations come from far away places now as the Jesters Charity Drives have become established. Paul Baker, who ran the beer tent this year, arrived in time for the Fair with a corporate donation of 100,000 baht from The Zima 3 Sakhalin ‘imbibers’ in Russia. Whatever next?

And, if it all got too exciting at any time, Bangkok Pattaya Hospital nurses were there to give a free blood pressure check for adults and children. Grateful thanks to the BPH Ambulance Unit too, for being on station all day to deal with any mishaps or emergencies.

There was never a dull moment and certainly no lack of enthusiasm or enjoyment throughout the day. In fact, from very early on one could detect a real ‘buzz’ at the fair, and a great atmosphere that lasted to the close, many fairgoers staying right to the end. However, at 6 pm it was time to wrap, with the inevitable few lingering on, sitting around, enjoying the live music with a relaxing drink, wanting more, and wondering how the day had passed so quickly.

It had been another hugely successful Jesters Children’s fair to celebrate the Jesters 10th Anniversary ‘Care for Kids’ Charity Drive.

Truly a children’s day in a ‘one-off’ Children’s Park created uniquely at the Diana Garden Resort & Driving range. It was a day for the whole family to enjoy, and the only day of its kind for children on the Eastern Seaboard throughout the year.

Finally, on behalf of the Jesters ‘Care for Kids’ Charity Drive Committee, sincere thanks to all the fairgoer families and children that came to support the Jesters 2007 Children’s Fair, the stallholders, the Schools, our Charity Drive partners - namely Baltex, Jameson’s, Pattaya Mail and the Diana Group; our first ever Diamond sponsor Steve J. Lake and all the corporate sponsors: 28 Platinum, 14 Gold, 22 Silver, and 72 Bronze, plus 40 Pledge program sponsors. Special thanks to Sopin and the Diana Group management for generously providing the Diana Garden Resort & Driving Range facility for the sixth consecutive year.

Can it ever be better? Well, rest assured that the Jesters ‘Care for Kids’ Charity Drive committee will, with your support, certainly try to raise the bar again in 2008.

Pattaya Mail