This past week’s Tobacco & Heritage Festival saw many exciting and fun events organized for the enjoyment of the citizens and visitors of our community. From races and beauty contests to tasty luncheons and crop judging, there seemed to be something for everyone to come out and enjoy. However, this year there was something missing.
“I haven’t heard one complaint, but there were people who called and asked where the rides were and after we explained it, they were satisfied.”” said Logan County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lisa Browning.
The annual carnival rides did not appear on the schedule of events of the 2012 Tobacco & Heritage Festival, but there was a reason. The festival steering committee intended to bring back the rides as always and even talked about it for a few months before the festival, however, timing and where to put them was an issue.
In the past, the rides have been located in several places in Russellville. They have been placed in the Bethel shopping center, the old Chrysler building parking lot near McDonald’s and the past two years in the old Red Kap parking lot on Armory Drive. This year, none of these locations could be used, leaving the committee without a place to put them.
Browning said due to liability issues, the property owners of the Bethel locations have said no to putting the rides in that area of town. The Chrysler Building is now the Russelville City Fire Department and the Red Kap parking lot was being looked at again for this year’s rides, but due to timing, that location became null and void as well.
“We looked at other places outside of town, but didn’t think people would want to go that far for the rides,” said Browning, mentioning they had heard complaints the rides were to far away from downtown when they were in the Red Kap parking lot the past few years.
The steering committee is made up of almost 20 people and they have been meeting and discussing the festival and events for months.
“We had police input on this and input from the people in the neighborhoods,” said Browning, adding that there were several factors other than not finding a place that formed the decision to forgo the rides this year. Browning said noise and litter have always been an issue as well. There have even been times when the police have made arrests on those who work for the rides.
Browning said they have had several people tell them they really enjoyed the bouncies that were located downtown for the smaller kids. “It was cheaper, more convenient and they felt more safe,” said Browning.
Things change from year to year with the festival and Browning says people can find out what will be featured from year to year in several places. The newspaper puts out a festival tabloid each year and the Logan County Chamber of Commerce places festival information on its news letter and on its website.
“Events change from year to year. There are changes with the festival each year. If your not sure, you can keep a check on these several information sites,” said Browning.
Now this does not mean the rides will not happen next year, Browning said.
“If we can find the right carnival and the right location, we will have them back,” said Browning. “We didn’t want to get rid of the rides this year, it just didn’t work out.”
Browning said despite the missing rides, she feels the festival was a success.
“I think all week long the festival went well. There was lots of participation in the events and the chairman of the festival seemed to be well satisfied. The weather was good and I think it went off just fine,” added Browning.