No fair: Contractor bails on Lions Club
Wednesday, October 11, 2017 - 9:28am
Monday morning when no trucks full of rides or unspun cotton candy pulled into the Louisville Lions Club fairgrounds, organizers began to get worried.
“Yesterday was their setup day,” said Michael Howard, a Lion who has worked to organize their annual fair for the last several years. “So I went over to Sandersville and the folks who were still there were packing up to head to Florida. That’s what we’re stuck with.”
He said he has still not been able to speak with the company’s owner, Larry Car with Great Southern Amusements LLC, who contracted to bring his rides and outfit to Louisville this week.
“They were in Sandersville last week and they were supposed to bring their fair just 30 miles down the road,” Howard said. “Sandersville wasn’t happy with them, but they had the basics…a ferris wheel, a carousel and kiddie rides. And we would have been glad to have them.”
For more than 50 years the Louisville Lions Club has been responsible for organizing and arranging for a fair company to bring the rides and midway games to the people of Jefferson County. Over the last several years Howard said it has been a struggle to get a fair to come to Louisville.
Two years ago a company they had signed with backed out just one week before the contracted dates and took their rides to a neighboring county. The club scrambled to get anything to come at all.
Howard said they made all the same calls Monday, but none of the other amusement companies could rearrange their schedules on such short notice.
The club plans to proceed with the scheduled entertainment, the Bingo shed, concession stand, dunking booth and exhibits.
“There was a vendor the fair company had set up to run the games and they didn’t know the group had taken off to go to Florida, and so they’re still here,” Howard said. “We’re going to try to make the best out of it that we can. We have $4,000 worth of food we bought and if we can just sell that we would be grateful. The exhibit building is all set up and the ribbons have been awarded. Everything is going to be open as normal, we just aren’t going to have any rides.”
The Lions Club has decided to open their gates Tuesday through Thursday and will not charge any admission.
While no money had changed hands between the amusement company and the club yet, the club will still be out its food expenses if it does not sell a significant number of its planned concessions.
“Everything we make still goes back to Jefferson County,” Howard said. “So please come out, even if it’s just to buy a steak sandwich. Come listen to the gospel group. Play bingo. Come visit the exhibit booths. People worked real hard on all that. Come support what we do have because any money you spend will be used to send kids to camp and support the parades and fireworks.”
He said that the club will be going back to the drawing board to discuss plans for the future.
“We’re going to see what can be done and try to get a new approach on this and try to do something, but yes, it’s possible that this might be the last one,” Howard said. “I’ve made some new contacts and so we’ll see.”
Howard said that these problems are not unique to Jefferson County and that over the last few years several surrounding communities, like Thomson and Milledgeville, have opted to no longer put on a fair.
“That’s two communities right here close by who said they weren’t going to struggle anymore to find and organize a fair,” he said. “We’ve been die hard and hanging onto tradition.”
And this year, it appears that tradition might just die, hard.