A fair to remember ''It's not one of my fondest memories,'' he says, before adding, ''It was a lot of fun.
'' Mention Canberry Fair to someone who grew up in Canberra in the 1980s and you will invariably be met with tales of birthday parties spent ''with the Swans'' the oversized bird boats on the man made lagoon burgers, milkshakes, roast chicken and (what seemed like) death defying moments on the roller coaster and Gravitron (aka Vomitron). One big advantage of Canberry Fair was that it didn't have the queues of Sydney or Melbourne so you could stay oakley distributors on the rides longer or keep riding the roller coaster until your little brother got a nose bleed. When the park opened its gates in December 1981, Canberra Times city reporter Frank Longhurst wrote, ''Canberry Fair defies easy description''. On the face of it, Canberry Fair was a replica 19th century Australian village. Sedaitis had spent the best part of two years scouring Australia for original materials such as old convict era cobblestones from Melbourne and timber slates from Wauchope and employing a heritage architect to make it as authentic as possible. Artist Dianne Fogwell had her studio at the oakley glasses frames site in the mid to late 2000s and says the new old buildings were still stunning. ''They did amazing things. It was simple but very elegantly done.'' Built around the ornamental lagoon, you'd enter Canberry Fair through a copy of the Echuca Hotel to find about 10 buildings including a barn, winery, mill, adult's pub, kid's pub (which adults could only patronise when accompanied by a child) and a five star restaurant, serving French cuisine. According to The Canberra Times in August 1982, Clancy's could lay claim to being the best restaurant in Canberra and the most expensive. ''Clancy's has style. high ceilings and pendant lights, a huge open fire and reflections from the silverware create an atmosphere close to grandeur. This is enhanced by the lace place settings on polished wood in place of tablecloths, and the high backed tapestry chairs [which were Jacobean style, imported from Britain].'' Frank Arnold got involved with Canberry Fair to oversee its construction but soon became a right hand marketing and operations man to Sedaitis. Arnold had just started his design and architecture firm, Quantum Ideas Bureau, but found himself working three days a week for Sedaitis. ''[I] had a party for two years,'' Arnold says, in the courtyard of his Hacienda style home and office in Manuka. According to Arnold, Clancy's food was good enough to see non local customers fly in for dinner. And with its landscaped gardens and carefully designed buildings, Canberry Fair soon got a reputation as a wedding spot. In the early '80s, Canberry Fair would host up to five weddings on a Saturday night in different venues across the grounds. There was even a chef brought in from Belgium to do the catering. Arnold had his own wedding okley reception there in The Barn. Folk band Franklin B Paverty played and there was five hour old lobster (caught in Tasmania, cooked in Melbourne and flown to Canberra) on the menu. ''This sounds oakley standard so incredibly decadent,'' Arnold says, a bit apologetically. On top of the food and the venues, the yellowed newspaper ads in Arnold's scrap books show there was a never ending stream of performances and activities, from Easter egg hunts to bush dances, magic shows and mime acts. Well known on the Canberra theatre scene since the 1970s, Domenic Mico came on board as an ''artistic director type of person''. Speaking this week from his current post at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre, Mico says Canberry Fair played an important part in introducing street theatre to Canberra and professionalising the local scene. There was a resident clown show (courtesy of the Ozo Brothers) and Mico was known to get about as Giuseppe an extremely ''interactive'' clown. During a Melbourne Cup Day event with camels and Shetland pony racing, Giuseppe ran a book and then ''ran off'' with all the money. ''It was just what Canberra needed,'' Mico says of the Canberry Fair scene. There is more than one explanation of the genesis of Canberry Fair. Arnold says it was originally going to be a camel based theme park called ''Camelot'' (as Sedaitis had a herd of camels that he had captured in the Northern Territory in the 1970s). But Sedaitis says the Fair was supposed to be based around exotic, warm blooded horses, courtesy of his business partner's links to the USSR. Unfortunately, while Canberry Fair was born with a lot of ideas and enthusiasm, it didn't have a lot of secure funding. After working on the project since the late 1970s, Sedaitis says he was left stranded when his business partner withdrew the bulk of the funds and went AWOL at the last minute. ''We were in full swing,'' Sedaitis recalls. ''I had wages to pay that week, we had builders running around.'' In hindsight, Sedaitis says he should have walked away and closed the doors before they had even opened. Instead, he borrowed $1.5million from the bank at 22per cent interest and went ahead with his dream. Without the horses and his business partner, Sedaitis had to rejig the dream which is why the rides and ''fun park'' element was belatedly introduced.
Despite all the drama initially, Canberry Fair worked. Even before the official launch, some 20,000 Canberrans unexpectedly descended upon Canberry Fair for a record breaking New Year's Eve in 1981. ''We were just embarrassed,'' Sedaitis says Canberry Fair didn't have the facilities to support such a crowd.
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