Fairgrounds damaged: Event will still be held

Published 7:10 am Friday, March 18, 2016

The Washington Parish Fairgrounds in Franklinton sustained heavy damage in Friday’s flood, but fair officials are confident everything will be ready in time for the October event.

Ed Branch, this year’s fair president, said that the bridge across the creek was completely destroyed. Six food booths and the fine arts building also sustained either minor damage or total damage, Branch said.

“We were fairly shocked, to say the least,” he said. “That’s the worst damage that I’ve seen, in the 30 years that I’ve been associated with the fair board. It’s even worse than Katrina.”

Donald Folse, who is serving as the fair’s building and grounds chairman, said that the creek swelled and overwhelmed its culverts. Crews have been on site the past several days, trying to reroute the water into its original creek, and laying clay to help reclaim the land so that reconstruction of the buildings and bridge can begin.

“One way or another, we’ll have it ready to go in time for the fair,” Folse said. “We probably have four or five options on how we could rebuild the bridge, and we’ll have to see which one is the most feasible and cost-effective.”

Folse said the fairground’s facilities are closed, because the storm damaged the sewer system. There was also damage to the playground area.

Branch said that the fair’s executive committee will have a meeting Monday night to discuss the flood’s aftermath. However, he noted that most executive committee and fair board members have visited the fairgrounds since Friday’s flood.

“Donald and I have been there just about every day,” he said. “We are working right now with Creel Bros. Construction and the town of Franklinton to at least clean it up to give us a fresh slate. From there, we can decide how to move forward on the bridge.”

Branch said that reconstruction at the fairgrounds will be costly, but he is confident the board will find a way to rebuild.