Fairground repairs progressing nicely

Published 6:57 am Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The chairman for the fair committee for buildings and grounds recently said that repairs to the Washington Parish Fairgrounds are coming along well.

Donald Folse said the March 11 flooding ripped through the fairgrounds, leaving an estimated $150,000 in damage to a bridge and several buildings. However, repairs are moving along and this week the bridge is just about repaired.

“We just got finished with the slab on the bridge this morning,” Folse said Tuesday. “Then we have to put a handrail on it, and then we’ll have to do the approaches on both sides, tying into the bridge, and that’ll take a little time.”

Folse also said the organization that owns and operates the fairgrounds, the Washington Parish Fairgrounds Association, is repairing several buildings.

“We have to replace two food booths,” he said. “We got the slab poured for one of them and we’re ready to lay cinder blocks. … The other one, we have to wait for the building approaches before we can begin the second booth.”

Folse said the association is also elevating the fine arts building over a foot and repairing some flood damage to the facility.

He said work is being paid for out of the association’s rainy day fund. Folse explained the group did apply for FEMA funding, but so far no funds have been approved.

“I’ve applied for the money,” he said. “Whether or not we get any remains to be seen. It costs a great deal of money to put this fair on every year. It’s not a big profit margin after the fair is over. Fortunately and unfortunately, we’ve had some money stuck back to where in case something happened that caused a total failure, we could sustain that hit one year.

“We’ve had to use that to do all this work. So hopefully we’ll get some kind of reimbursement, even if it’s a percentage. But we just haven’t yet.”

In addition, Folse explained that the community has come together and several people have donated services to help repair the festival grounds.

Folse said there was never any doubt the association would pray for the repairs, because the fair is too important. He said the fair attracts over a quarter million people, and it is an annual tradition for many.

“With October comes the fair,” he said. “There’s no such thing as it being delayed or it being postponed. There are people in this area where this is their vacation. We’ve got people who camp out here for six or seven days.”

Folse said that prior to this year’s fair, the association might hold a fundraiser to replenish some of the rainy day fund.