This was the 10th year of our Citylife Garden Fair, and was by a long shot the most spectacular affair to date.
It all started when a few of our readers came to ask to use our old Citylife garden to organise a small fair to raise money to help the victims of the 2004 tsunami. We invited friends, clients and anyone who cared to join in and had about thirty or forty stalls selling goods to the few hundred readers who turned up. It was such a lovely day that we decided to do it twice a year (choosing two to three beneficiary charities per event), which we did until the whole thing simply got too big so we pulled it back to an annual event.
This year we exceeded last year’s 5,000 visitors by a thousand or so, had 220 stalls represented and have hopefully raised 320,000 baht for the Burma Children Medical Fund and Mae Maeh Orphanage. (At time of press we are still chasing an outstanding 140,000 baht.) We also had some serious fun.
The purpose of the fair is two-fold, to raise money to support two charities per event as well as to bring together our friends, clients and readers for a fabulous day. In that, I think we achieved our goals.
There were 60 food stalls ranging from haute cuisines such as the newly minted Akyra Manor Hotel, Wine Cellar’s kobe beef, Le Crystal, The Pavana and the Anantara to fabulous home cooked treats such as Rasta Mama Bakery, Burger Box and Dominic’s aromatic breads. We had 30 second hand and many nonprofit stalls such as TEDx, Kids Ark Foundation, Expat Club and a total of 130 business stalls ranging from Holiday Inn, PTIS, Fah Lanna and Oasis Spas to Colour Factory, The Cutler, Naga Spa, Kad Farang, Central and Bangkok Hospital, all happily crammed into JJ Hobby Market’s garden area. Thanks to Kay, my right hand girl of the past eight years who I am devastated to say is about to leave Citylife (no, it wasn’t just because of those late night phone calls to book stalls!), we managed to squeeze in a record number of stalls while making sure that we had a good representation of businesses, services, entertainment and charity.
Ann Fink with help from the generous Brad Chamberlain was in charge of entertainment and the result was an incredible lineup of musical acts, all of whom volunteered their time and talent to entertain the appreciative crowd: there was Chameleon’s Indy rock which opened up the fair and got our energy levels flying, Toni Putrino from Yummy Pizza’s band of crowd-pleasing favourites, Old Chiang Mai’s traditional dances and Muay Thai shows, Por and friends’ charming acoustic reggae-based originals, Two Nights with Steve’s amazing original songs which will soon be recorded and released in their first album (and yes, THE Steve), Supreeda ‘Jaeb’ Wongsesansee flamboyant flamenco dance troupe, up and coming star Rasmee’s haunting Isaan and morlam jazzy tunes, Jai Yen’s chilled groove-based rock, Joyce and the awesome Backstabbers’ great rocky blues and finally the day closed with Blinky’s crowd-pulling freestyle beat box.
Spa Mantra saved many of our feet after hours of shopping with their massage chairs and 137 Pillars House, D2 and Le Meridian did an exemplary job keeping our thirst at bay with bubblies, beers and cocktails.
There was a face painter who was a huge hit as well as a fun cartoon portrait artist sponsored by Super James and Magnolia Caf?. We even had a dunk tank where our volunteers Steve Yarnold, Jonas Dept and Ting Ting Carpenter risked injuries and a cold to raise over 3,000 baht.
We relied on the kindness of friends and strangers. Following a two month campaign where I shamelessly begged, pleaded or in most cases simply asked, and we received the most incredible number of donations totaling over 750,000 baht (I have thanked them in the list at the end of this article).
Our live auction saw a thrilling bidding war for Bangkok Airways’ two return tickets to Yangon as well as to Phuket which we also included two nights that the Cape Panwa hotel kindly donated. There were also spectacular room nights and breakfasts at 137 Pillars House Hotel, Le Meridian and Four Seasons which netted a total of 60,000 baht. AirAsia, with thanks to Fine Dae Magazine, donated two return domestic and two return international tickets and the hard working team of Tracy Williams, Adele Theron and Tom Clegg using all their wiles and skills helped sell 313 hundred baht tickets raising a whopping 31,300 baht.
Not only that, Chompor Lanna Boutique Resort and Old Chiang Mai (cultural centre) both donated a massive 10,000 baht each towards our charities.
The media also helped us greatly with this event with XFM giving us a free radio spot leading up to the big day and interviewing me before the event as well as WETV the evening before. WETV also came and attended the event and along with Digital Mixes, Documentary Arts Asia and Ana Grillo, we are hoping to have some great images and footages from this year’s fair to share with you soon.
Luciene Coombs, Anne Schoch and Victoria Bonis helped raise 42,000 in the tombola this year, a record by a long shot! And with so many donated prizes (the tombola had over 300 prizes to giveaway) pretty much everyone who bought a couple of tickets walked away with something.
The biggest earner of the day was the silent auction which was organised by the frighteningly efficient Joanne Robinson with her assistants Rachel Begley and Gail Lewis. A huge thanks to dFoundation’s Kyle Barraclough, Sirikul Leardpasuk and James Schipper as well as Sally Golding’s Foundation for Developing and Supporting Children team as well as all the other people who stepped in to help.
And of course the JJ Market did a great job helping us to prepare for the event, meeting all of our sometimes outrageous demands and making sure that everything ran smoothly.
And lastly I need to thank my own team. We did this fair, our largest yet, on the skinny this year as we couldn’t spare more than a couple of staff in the lead-up to the fair. Kay has been indispensable to me for nearly a decade and while I wish her well in her new business venture, I know that we are going to struggle without her next year. In spite of a few tears and a couple of nervous breakdowns, she pulled it all together. Aydan Stuart also seems to be impervious to my unreasonable demands and soldiers on picking up the pieces post mayhem and putting them all back together. My other staff know how much they all did and I thank them all.
Next year we are hoping to continue to make the Citylife Garden Fair even bigger and better. As those of you who came can see, it is now much bigger than Citylife, it is a community event. We will publish all of our finances by the time you read this and are as open and transparent as possible in all dealings. I would be very grateful for all of your feedback and would also to ask any of you who are interested in volunteering to get in touch. Next July we will start working towards the 2016 fair and I would be grateful for the support of a good team of volunteers as I had this year. Thank you again, and in six months we are hoping to do a follow up story from the Burma Children Medical Fund and the Mae Maeh Orphanage to tell you how all of your money has been spent.
Thank you. So much.
And a huge thanks to these wonderful businesses for their total of 750,000 baht in donations:
Bangkok Airways, Fine Dae Magazine, 137 Pillars House Hotel, Le Meridien, Four Seasons Resort and Spa, Cape Panwa Hotel, AirAsia, ItalAsia, Sabina Braxton, Absolute Bootcamp, Anchan Vegetarian Restaurant, Alex Soulsby, Asian Healing Centre, Baan Mon Muan, Beer Republic and El Patio, Chiang Dao Nest, Chic 39, Dhara Dhevi, Chick Secret, Documentary Arts Asia, Duangtawan Hotel, Elephant Parade, Fashion King, Fortune Dental Clinic, Ginger Cafe, Great Fruits, Jonas Dept, Kiriya Spa Vana, Krabi La Playa Resort, Lava Caf?, Loy Fah, Mae Rim Ceramics, Meals on Wheels, Mo’c Mo’l, Montefino Panama Hats, Paradise Inya Hotel, Naked Divorce, Nok ‘em Ded, Norden Restaurant, Partybox Guru, Photo Bug, PJ LaVa, Robin Ruth, Makerspace, TedX, Richard Mann Photography, Suan Lahu, Tengoku+Yaki, The Kuamoong, Three Owls Gallery, The Legend Chiang Rai, Hmong Lodge, Old Chiang Mai, The Old Theatre Inn, The Podology Centre, TUBE Raintree Foundation, Vava Frozen Yoghurt, Yummy Pizza, Mix Restaurant, Richard Man, Dr. Danai Aesthetics, Take Me Home (DATT), Oasis Spa, Rachamankha Hotel, Enoteca, Nice Nails, Free Bird Cafe, Woo Cafe, D2, Chair in the Tree Art and Music Festival, Tananan Wilson, Studio Naenna, Shangri-La, Aacha, Wine Cellar, the Rotary Club, Hillkoff, Chompor Lanna Boutique, Siripanna Boutique Resort and Spa, Steak of the Day, Nikki’s Spirits, Akyra Manor Hotel, Anantara Resort, Le Crystal Restaurant, Victoria’s Flamenco Work Shop, Second Nature Images, Clouds in the Kitchen, Ann Fink, Tony & Michelle Richards, Oasis Spa and anyone else we may have failed to include.