Neither flood, nor mud, or lack of running water can prevent this year's Wilson County Fair in Fredonia
How do you hold a fair three weeks after your grounds and buildings have been covered by 20 feet of water?
"You go to plan A, plan B, plan C and even plan G if you have to," says Daryl Donohue, President, Wilson County Fair Association.
The Wilson County Fair Board has considered those plans and others in order to make sure that the county fair happens on schedule in Fredonia - with some minor adjustments.
"Our kids have worked too hard for us to just cancel the fair," says Wilson County Extension Agent Cheri Nelson. "We don't believe our efforts will distract from recovery efforts. We need a break and something to feel good about and we thing this is a good step toward getting back to normal."
Entertainment during the fair will kick off with the Demolition Derby on Saturday, July 21st. The ACRA Rodeo will be held July 27th and 28th and an Outlaw Truck and Tractor Pull will wind down the fair on July 29th.
The 4-H and open class exhibits during the fair will take some re-arranging, but they will go on as well. Inside exhibits will be displayed at the Sacred Heart Parish Hall in Fredonia. Livestock shows will be held at the fairgrounds, but livestock will not be kept in the facilities over night and the show order has changed.
Donohue admits that there was some talk early on about canceling the event all together, but as the waters receded and the board started kicking around "what if" ideas, the plans just came together.
Ironically, the main challenge the fair still has to overcome is ironically related to the lack of water—Fredonia's water plant was knocked out of commission during recent flooding. The city and rural water districts it serves are still under orders to boil and conserve water until plant operations are restored.
The livestock will come in for the day of their shows only and will go home - and water will have to be trucked in. Volunteers also are not going to have sufficient time to ready the livestock facilities to stay over night. There will not be traditional fitting of the livestock to conserve energy, water and to simplify the event for exhibitors.
Wilson County 4-H families will get a letter from Nelson detailing what they need to do to prepare for the fair and the exact schedule of events.
It's going to take some time to finish cleaning the grounds entirely. Because of that, attendees should plan on wearing closed toe shoes just to be on the safe side.
"Everything from display tables to bleachers and bathrooms to fences were covered in mud and other debris left by the flood. It takes time and elbow grease to bring those things back to life and to remove all of the junk," said Nelson.
"It's not going to be the same old county fair we've always had," said Donohue. "We're going to need everyone to be patient and flexible this year. But we're glad we can continue this important tradition. Our facilities will be ready. We just hope our neighbors from around the 4-State area will come out and support us through their attendance."