Organizers are hoping for a breath of F.R.E.S.H. Air when the annual community gathering resumes after a two-year absence bringing information and kid-centered fun back.
The event is organized by the Coalition for a Healthy Community – Oxford Ohio as a way for residents to learn more about local non-profit organizations as well as safety and health options, while offering hands-on fun things for kids. The F.R.E.S.H. Air Fair originated with McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital and has come under the coalition umbrella, held each year in conjunction with the Kiwanis Club’s Pancake Day.
The Kiwanis event will be held from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 23, with the F.R.E.S.H. Air Fair running from 9 a.m. to noon, all at Talawanda High School.
The F.R.E.S.H. Air Fair — Family Resources in Education, Health and Safety — began more than 15 years ago as a hospital safety day started by Sylvia Moore and renamed in 2013 when the coalition took it on and expanded it to include more participating organizations.
“The most popular part of the program has consistently been giving away bike helmets for bicycle safety,” said Sharon Klein, of McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital/TriHealth, who has long been involved with the coalition and chairs the Healthy Eating Active Living workgroup. “This year, we will have more bike helmets than ever. (Coalition Coordinator) Amy (Macechko) thought we would need more with the break.”
Miami University senior Rachel Goetz is an intern with the coalition this semester and has taken on much of the responsibility for organizing this year’s F.R.E.S.H. Air Fair. The deadline for organizations to register was still open as of March 30, but she was expecting 25 to 30 booths for the day.
“We are still hearing back from some saying participation forms are in the mail,” Goetz said. “Hueston Woods will be there with hawks and owls. There will be plenty of different draw-ins with lots for kids, bubbles. McCullough-Hyde will have make-your-own visors.”
Klein added there will again be a bike rodeo with police officers teaching kids how to safely ride bikes and encouraging the use of helmets, which will be available for free at the site.
“It will be good for kids to get helmets and there will be a drawing for a bike late,” she said.
Another popular draw for kids is the arrival of a medical helicopter and this year, Med Flight is scheduled to arrive and be there from 10 a.m. to noon showing off their equipment and answering questions.
“Kids really like that,” Klein said.
The prescription give-back will also be held as part of the day’s activities and it will be set up as a drive-thru with police officers on hand to accept outdated or unneeded medicines so they can be disposed of safely. They will also have medical disposal kits available for those who may not have such prescriptions with them or may need to get rid of some later.
Goetz also noted the coalition is sponsoring a “Pack the Park” program all through April until that day with participants invited to get a Bingo-style card online and go to various parks in the area. Winners will be announced that day at the F.R.E.S.H. Air Fair.
Talawanda Oxford Pantry and Social Services, the local food pantry, is expected to be part of the day and will bring their refrigerated van purchased with city COVID relief funds so people can see it.
The F.R.E.S.H. Air Fair was not held the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and Klein said they are being cautious this year. In past years, they moved the event indoors at the high school in the event of rain, but chose this year to not use that as an option. In the event of rain, it would be canceled.
She said notice of a cancelation would be posted on the coalition website — healthyoxfordarea.org.
Kiwanis President Jennifer Marston said having the F.R.E.S.H. Air Fair and Pancake Day the same day works for both, as some people may come for one of the two events, not knowing about the other one and take advantage of both.
“I love working with other groups coming together, the broader base of people may bring some people who do not know about Pancake Day,” Marston said. “I love having the F.R.E.S.H Air Fair together with the other groups, as well.”
Goetz said she is enjoying her internship with the coalition and looks forward to graduating in May with the experience she has gotten from the semester with the coalition. She is psychology major with minors in child studies and art therapy.
“I’ve enjoyed it. There are so many different things I do for the community. It’s a mix of things I like,” she said. “The F.R.E.S.H. Air Fair is such a good opportunity for the community.”