West End Fair adds an extra day
Ron Gower/Times News Josh Smith of Kuss Brothers, Allentown, which supplies tents for some of the vendors at the West End Fair in Gilbert, hammers large stakes into ground holding tents. Smith said he doesn't feel the impending storm Irene will harm the tents, noting they are built to withstand wind speeds of 70 miles per hour.
Vendors were pitching tents, putting together rides, and stocking inventory at stands Friday at the West End Fairgrounds in Gilbert
They know that getting ready for a fair is time consuming, so it has to get done well in advance of the fair's opening.
They also realize a potentially-dangerous hurricane is approaching which could create havoc.
The 90th annual West End Fair is scheduled to open Sunday at 10 a.m.
Fair officials are hoping that Hurricane Irene doesn't impact that timetable but officers will meet at 7 a.m. tomorrow to decide if the fair opens as scheduled.
Regardless of the decision on opening, the directors yesterday added an extra day onto this year's schedule. Instead on ending Saturday, Sept. 3, it will now end on Sunday, according to Fair Secretary Pat Schneider.
She said if the fair directors decide to close the fair this Sunday, most of the scheduled events will be delayed until Sept. 4.
People who have entries at the fair can usually pick them up on the Sunday after the fair closes. Schneider said this won't change. They can still pick up their entries on Sept. 4 as scheduled.
Josh Smith of Kuss Brothers, Allentown, was busy yesterday hammering large stakes into the ground to secure tents for various vendors. He said he feels the tents he installed will withstand tropical storm force winds at the fair.
"Most of the tents are capable to withstand 70 miles per hour gusts," said Smith. "As long as the stakes don't pull out, we'll be okay."
The amount of rain that falls is a concern.
"If we get a ton of rain, the ground will soften which will allow the stakes to be pulled out by the wind," he said.
Meanwhile, Steve Baker of Effort was putting up a smaller tent for his coffee business. He is hopeful the tent can withstand Irene's wrath.
"We're going to tie it down the best we can," he said. "We don't have the luxury of waiting out the storm. It takes a while to set up."
Charlie Steet of Middletown Christian Church said the parish's stand has been at the same location for about 13 years without a problem. A large tent stands over nine picnic tables.
"I'm not really concerned," Steet said. "We're in a wind-blocked area."
Steet said maybe the church will be spared through the grace of a higher power.
"One year a hurricane was predicted. It split up before the fairgrounds, with areas to the east and west getting a lot of rain but not the fair," he said.
Employees of Goodtime Amusements were putting the finishing touches on rides, but also adding precautions in case the hurricane hits.
One worker said the rides are set up well in advance so that they are ready when the fair opens.
"There's only so much we can do," he said regarding the preparation.
Othet protective measures were taken such as taking the tops off some rides such as the roof off the merry-go-round, reducing the height of some of the taller rides, and making sure all the nuts and bolts are tight.
Scheduled at the fair tomorrow are West End quarter midget racing starting at 10 a.m., a karate center exhibit at 1:30, a performance by Melody's Dance Studio at 3 p.m., and the annual vesper service of the Pleasant Valley Ecumumenical Network at 6:30.
Fireworks are slated for 9:30 p.m.
Country singer Nicole Donatone was scheduled to entertain at noon and 2 p.m.