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Entire community takes a hit when events are canceled

When local fairs are canceled, everyone feels the financial sting.

Last week the West End Fair, Carbon County Fair and Schuylkill County Fair all canceled for 2020.

Gary Kistler, director for the West Penn Township Lions Club, said the club will miss the revenue from the Carbon Fair.

“Our club was involved in putting the fair together, along with all the Lions Clubs in Carbon County,” said Gary Kistler, who sits on the board of directors. “We are involved with one of the stands there. It’s one of our main fundraisers. We’re hurting.”

Kistler said that just like every other organization, “I don’t know where we’re headed. We’re all getting itchy.”

The club lost its chicken barbecue fundraiser the first weekend of June and is trying to come up with ideas to help raise funds through other means.

Michael Hunsicker, president of the West Penn club, said losing those two major fundraisers will have a negative impact.

“We get a percentage of the French fry stand, (Dale’s Concession); we cut the potatoes, peel them, slice them,” Hunsicker said. “It’s a huge setback; it is a big loss.”

The club has another chicken barbecue sale scheduled for the first Saturday in September.

“We don’t know how it’s going to pan out,” Hunsicker said. “Maybe we’ll do a drive-thru pickup.”

The club also conducts other events for the community, such as a senior fund day where it invites all the seniors in West Penn Township to come out for a free lunch and dinner, along with games, raffles, and bingo.

“(With COVID), that’s hard to do as well,” he said.

Giving back

The club also conducts a roadside cleanup that stretches 5 miles of highway from the EZ Market in Andreas to Leiby’s Restaurant in Tamaqua, but this year’s event has been canceled.

Hunsicker said the club donated $200 worth of milk (from Pocono Mountain Dairies); $100 worth of bread (from Boyer’s Food Markets); and $100 worth of eggs (from The Nesting Box) to Christ Church Mckeansburg to help other farmers in our community.

“It’s not all just about money,” he said. It’s about helping the community.”

Helping the community is something volunteer Mark Green knows a thing or two about.

Green, who along with his wife, Karen, have volunteered for years at the Carbon County Fair as members of the Palmerton Lions Club. The couple works in the ice cream stand and with sweet corn sales.

“Without having the fair, we’ll be quite a few thousand dollars that we won’t be able to profit from,” Green said. “We all give back to our local communities in Carbon County, and without that, fundraisers are really limited this year because so far we haven’t had any events yet.

And that isn’t all that will be missed, Green said.

“Just associating with the people in general; you see people you haven’t seen for years,” he said. “You miss the relationship that you’ve gained through the years, people miss going out and listening to entertainment, you just miss all the general event that go on at the fair.

Hopefully everything gets back to normal again.”

Fire departments

The cancellation of fairs has also put a damper on fire companies that rely on fundraisers to stay afloat.

Jeffrey Weiss, president of the West End Fire Company in Brodheadsville, said the organization stands to lose quite a bit of money now that the West End Fair canceled its event.

“West End Fair is pretty much our largest fundraiser,” Weiss said. “We operate our food stand, and we also cover the emergency services of the fairground.

The loss of both of those streams of revenue is going to affect our ability to buy supplies, equipment that we use to respond to our community, as well as mutual aid to surrounding townships.”

Weiss said it costs the department almost $10,000 to outfit an volunteer to be able to go into a burning building, and that the equipment lasts maybe 10 years.

“The loss of this revenue is going to affect our ability to do that,” he said. “I’m 51, our stand has been operating at least that long, if not maybe more.