Carrie Jewell likes to attend events at the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds, but that’s sometimes easier said than done.
Jewell uses a scooter and, her husband, a wheelchair. She would like the fairgrounds to include an accessible place for people who are in wheelchairs and scooters to watch grandstand shows.
She said it was suggested to her at last year’s fall fair that she go to the announcer’s booth. The trouble with that, she said, was that the walkway was not wide enough for making a turn into a narrow doorway. She mentioned it to someone who said they would take her concern to the fall fair board.
After she attended a 4-H show in August, she said, she realized that no improvements had been made. She then spoke to Phil Wright, president of the fall fair board, who said he would take her concerns to the board. Since then, a section on the side of the announcer’s booth by the arena has been opened up.
The narrow walkway problem has been solved, says Jewell, but the trouble is that the bottom of the window frame is too high for someone in a wheelchair to be able to see through. She can see out, but her husband can’t.
“There are lots of people with mobility difficulties. It’s not their fault, life happens. You can either fold and quit and end up hibernating somewhere for the rest of your life, or you can go on living and participating in things like the fair... But then we go and he (her husband) can only halfway watch it.”
There’s also the problem of people standing in front.
Wright, meanwhile, said Monday he will try to get the windows lowered before the fair.
He said the fair this year has borrowed a golf cart-type vehicle from the IPE in Armstrong so that someone who has difficulties walking can flag it down and be given a ride around the grounds.
“That’s new this year but it doesn’t address Carrie’s concern. We did open up that door and we’ll certainly look at lowering that one side, I think we can do it,” he said, adding that the area in front could be roped off to keep people from standing in front.
He said he’s also asked Jewell if she would be willing to investigate federal grants to improve accessibility – and she said she would.
“We’re trying to enlist her to be proactive, we’re not shutting her down,” Wright remarked.
Jewell said she’d ultimately like to see a ramp like the one at the IPE.
“There’s a ramp that goes up into the grandstands so people can watch everything going on. It’s very usable. My daughter pushes my husband up.”
Overall, Jewell says, she’s not trying to create conflict regarding the Salmon Arm fairgrounds.
“I’m not angry at anybody, I’m not threatening anybody, I’m just asking for some support. Last year there were a number of people who got too hot, too uncomfortable, too wet to stay there anymore.”