Fair in the Square is a community event featuring free food and live entertainment at Victory Square Park in Vancouver’s downtown East Side in late May.
In 2023 the event celebrates its 15th year on June 11th.
Fair in the Square at Victory Square Park
Hosted by the Central City Foundation and Vancouver Community College, and sponsored by Vancity Credit Union, Fair in the Square is an annual event for people of all walks of life.
The purpose of the event is to showcase non-profits serving Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and provide free food and entertainment to everyone, rich and poor.
The event is called “Fair in the Square” because it’s a festival-style “fair,” but also because everyone is treated fairly, and with respect, regardless of one’s socio-economic background.
Where and When
The event takes place at Victory Square Park at 200 West Hastings Street. It’s a nice park at the edge of both Gastown (which is a trendy touristy spot with restaurants, souvenir shops and historic buildings) and Vancouver’s Downtown East Side (which is home to some of Vancouver’s most marginalized residents).
Chinatown is just a short walk from Victory Square, as is Queen Elizabeth Theatre and the Vancouver Public Library. Victory Square is also halfway between Waterfront Station and Stadium-Chinatown Station. It takes less than 10 minutes to walk to either SkyTrain station, so it’s a fairly convenient location.
In 2023, Fair in the Square takes place on Sunday, June 11th. The 2020 and 2021 events took place in an online format because of COVID-19. The event was in-person once again in 2022 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm on June 12th.
What to Expect
At the event in normal years, expect to see hundreds of people, performers on a stage, and dozens of community booths with folk offering either free food or information about what services their respective non-profit organizations provide. There are also a few artisan vendors, crafts for kids and a stage with live entertainment.
There are a number of stations serving free food. The barbecued hamburgers, cupcakes, watermelon slices, juice boxes and bottled water are all thanks to Vancouver Community College and its Culinary Arts Program. Servers are all volunteers, including students from various schools.
There is a small stage featuring live entertainment. It’s sponsored by Vancity Credit Union and performers include local bands and dance groups.
The food at the event is all usually free. They don’t even ask for donations. The primary beneficiaries are all the low income and marginalized folk from the area, but everyone is welcome. It’s a community fair for all!
In years with good weather the fair attracts as many as 3,000 people, which is pretty good for an event that lasts for just three or so hours.
Tips and Advice
Below are some tips and suggestions to help you make the most of your Fair in the Square experience.
TIP #1: This is a great event with free food and free entertainment. It’s also an exceptional opportunity to learn about the many organizations doing good work in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side.
TIP #2: Chat with the folk behind the community booth tables. You’ll learn about the work they do and might even find an organization you’d like to support.
TIP #3: Although in one of Vancouver’s “rougher” neighbourhoods, the area is perfectly safe. The event is family-friendly and all are welcome.
TIP #4: Combine your trip to the Fair in the Square event with a visit to Gastown or Chinatown, both of which are close by.
About the Organizers
Fair in the Square is presented by the Central City Foundation which is a charitable organization that funds social programs, capital projects and social purpose real estate. All the many non-profit organizations represented at the event are beneficiaries of the foundation and its funding support.
Vancouver Community College is a publicly-funded college that’s located just down the street from Victory Square. It co-hosts the fair along with the Central City Foundation. The cooks at the BBQ station are from the college’s Culinary Arts Program.
Fair in the Square is sponsored by a number of other organizations including Vancity Credit Union which is a socially-responsible Vancouver-based financial institution that supports many community events and organizations.
Vancity has a booth at the fair and is the official stage sponsor. The credit union’s slogan is “Make Good Money” as they use their members’ money to invest in local and socially-responsible businesses and non-profit organizations. Vancity also shares its profits with its members and donates a considerable amount to local charitable organizations. We’re big fans of Vancity!
For more information about the fair see the Central City Foundation website.
Other events that also take place at Victory Square include the Victory Square Block Party on the Labour Day Weekend in September and Vancouver’s main Remembrance Day Ceremonies on November 11th each year.
For a list of events taking place elsewhere in the Lower Mainland see our Monthly Calendar or click Festivals & Events.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Vancouver on a Budget
- Vancouver’s Top 100 Places
- Vancouver’s May and June Calendars
- The City of Vancouver
- Lower Mainland Parks and Places in Nature