National treasure

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Since 1954, the Alabama National Fair has showcased the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery at its very best.

Story by Kasey Jackson
Photos courtesy Southern Legacy Marketing & Design

When it comes to Kiwanis signature projects, there are only a handful as big and as bright as this one. And most of those probably don’t have adorable baby animals scurrying about.

Welcome to the Alabama National Fair, where the Ferris wheel brightens the night sky and the cotton candy sweetens the tongue. Oh, and while there may be a fair queen, here, Kiwanis is king.

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For 66 years, the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery has staged the fair, which has welcomed millions of people of all ages through its gates. And in those years, the club has been able to contribute more than US$7.4 million to children in the area. 

In fact, the fair touches many lives in many ways. Russ Dunman, past president of the fair and of the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery, says being able to reach a lot of different segments of the community and offer a variety of events is special.

“Hundreds in our special needs community were our guests one day,” he says. “We also recognized with free admission and recognition first responders, veterans and senior citizens. Also, reduced admission for everyone on a couple of days with donation of food for our Food Bank and pet food for our Humane Society. We hosted a high school choral contest with 1,400 young people. Hundreds of young people participated in livestock competitions and were awarded over $53,000 in prizes. Over $20,000 in prizes awarded for art, FHA, 4-H, cooking, home crafts and photography competitions. And a new youth robotics competition was a huge success.”  

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The fair, which was awarded the 2019 Kiwanis Signature Project Contest gold medal at the 104th Annual Kiwanis International Convention at Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida, has all the qualities of an award-winning project. It’s a great example of the Kiwanis family working together, with more than 200 volunteers from Kiwanis, CKI and Key Club working at the fair each year. Promotion includes everything from TV and radio spots to social media, billboards and a slick website. Kiwanians also work with several community partners.

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“There is no measurement big enough to express the pride Kiwanis of Montgomery has in our fair,” Dunman says. “(The Signature Project Contest) award gives us a stamp of excellence that all of us shared in celebrating. And we’re committed to making our fair even better going forward.”

What’s your signature project? Such projects should: be recurring; elevate the Kiwanis brand; have a high impact that is measurable in monies raised or children served; and support opportunities to strengthen membership and develop new partnerships.

You can find tips, tools and more at kiwanis.org/signatureproject.


This story originally appeared in the January/February 2020 issue of Kiwanis magazine.

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