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Volunteers fuel Ladner May Days for 127 years & counting

Three-day fair At Memorial Park gets underway on Friday with midway opening at 3 p.m.

It’s the biggest three-day party of the year in Ladner that has been going on for well over a century.

The 127th edition of Ladner May Days kicks off on Friday afternoon and ramps up throughout the weekend at Memorial Park. It’s a free community event for the entire family thanks efforts of tireless volunteers, including many that have grown up with the fair.

Among them is this year’s chair Missy Thornton.

As a young working mother, she still has found the time to give back to her hometown by juggling all her responsibilities with everyday life. It’s the same for many on the May Days committee that began meeting months earlier to brainstorm ideas and line-up potential sponsors, food and market vendors — leading up to the big weekend.

“Since I was little, May Days has been a part of my life. My parents brought me when I was a kid and they grew up in Ladner as well and also came when they were kids. It’s just an ongoing tradition for our family,” said Thornton, whose aunt was Ladner May Days Queen back in 1971.

“I used to (organize) the Royal Court and now my sister is doing that. My mom comes out and does stuff behind the scenes and so does my dad. It’s really a family affair for us and everyone else that comes together.”

The committee certainly had its challenges through the pandemic, with two years of limited virtual events.

When the health restrictions for large events were finally lifted in early spring of 2022, they scrambled to put the fair together in a tight time frame and the crowds returned in a big way.

“It was wonderful. The community made it such a great event. We were thrilled,” added Thornton. “Between sponsorship and working with everyone involved, it really came together.”

That momentum leads into this year’s fair with an action-packed three days.

May Days kicks off on Friday at 3 p.m. when the Shooting Star Amusement’s midway opens. The rides and games will run until 10 p.m.

The Ladner May Days Invitational men’s fast-pitch tournament also begins on Friday with its first game at 6:30 p.m.

Activities really get going on Saturday, running from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. In addition to the midway and fast-pitch tournament continuing, there will be a May Days Market, stage entertainment, petting zoo and pony rides, gold panning with Yukon Dan, beer garden (noon-to-6 p.m.), food trucks and more.

Sunday begins with a pancake breakfast at the park from 8 to 11 a.m. The parade starts at noon in Ladner Village and will make its way to Memorial Park.

Sunday’s in-the-park line-up will include many of the same activities as Saturday, highlighted by the crowning of the 2022 Royal Court on the main entertainment stage at 1:30 p.m.

The May Days’ website has all the details.