Denver firstCommittee cancels fair for safety reasons

By on September 14, 2011

By: MICHELLE REIFF Review Staff, Staff Writer

Barely recognizable under several feet of water during the recent flooding, this is the stage which would have been used in Memorial Park for the Denver Fair.Barely recognizable under several feet of water during the recent flooding, this is the stage which would have been used in Memorial Park for the Denver Fair.

Although the loss amounts to a costly $15,000 to $20,000, the decision of the Denver Fair Committee at an emergency meeting last Thursday evening to cancel this year’s event was one that was made for the safety of participants and attendees.

According to publicity chiar Lorraine Korber, who also works for Henry Schein, the main sponsor of the fair, the setup that would normally occur Friday through Sunday would not have been able to take place. This was because of extreme ground conditions and devastation from the flooding due to to the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee. The committee took into account that they were going to bring in machines and dig up the ground which would make it worse for people to walk on and would need to be fixed afterwards. Also, guests would not be able to park cars on the saturated grass.

"The water did recede, but the ground everywhere is soaked," said Korber on Friday.

Korber added that exhibitors who saw the flooding in the park on Thursday were not surprised to received the call notifying them of the cancelation.

Denver Fair President Dennis Worley said this is the first time the fair has been canceled in its entirety. There have been years where excessive rain (such as with Hurricanes Floyd and Ivan) has caused the fair to shut down temporarily while in progress.

Worley said that although organizations lost the opportunity to raise money for their cause, most were able to cancel their orders. He said that the area where most money was lost was in advertising and tent rental. The committee will need to "dig into" money they had put aside to make up for it.

"It was a tough decision for us to have to make and I’m sure people are disappointed," said Worley, who plans on holding fund-raisers throughout the year to recoup some of the money and looks forward to the 2012 fair.

Although Joyce Christy, chairperson of the canned goods exhibits, has had an increase of 300 more entries over the last couple years, she said that most of her exhibitors take their displays to the Ephrata Fair afterwards, so the loss in her area will be minimal. She supported the decision to cancel. Her particular concern was for the electricians that donate their time for the community who would have to work with a combination of heavy wires and wet grounds.

"We didn’t feel we should put their lives in jeopardy," said Christy.

In the hours prior to the cancelation of the fair, more decisions were being made in the borough. One of those was the closing of several roadways due to flooding, making it difficult or nearly impossible for area residents to enter or exit.

"During the peak of the storm, after about an hour and a half of steady hard rain, we saw the water levels rise," said Michael Hession, borough manager. "So there was a point in time where the center part of the town was restricted."

Flooding and closings occurred at several spots, essentially blocking off Main Street. There was no roadway surface damage, only some on the sidewalks.

According to Hession, the roads were opened when flooding subsided. However, one area remains closed: that of the Weaver Road bridge. Because it is considered a "high water" bridge, the borough is required to close it and get it inspected first, for which it is currently waiting to get confirmation from PennDOT. Also, on the other side of the bridge, in East Cocalico Township, portions of the roadway were washed out, including and there is a 16-foot stretch. The bridge will remain closed while the township is scheduling repairs.

"This is the most water that I’ve ever seen," said Hession, who has been in the area for over 13 years. "We probably haven’t had anything since Agnes that was as substantial as this event."

The one thing that remains as scheduled regarding the fair is the participation of the Miss Denver Fair contestants in the Ephrata Fair parade, as always. The Denver Fair Board is hopeful that some time between now and the parade, Sept. 21, the new Miss Denver Fair will be announced. More DENVER FAIR, page A11

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