The show must go onPublished 7:43pm Friday, September 30, 2011
Despite what has been described as the worst damage the Four Flags Area Flag Festival has ever experienced, officials are adamant the show will go on.
Wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour toppled tents, chairs and tables throughout the festival grounds early Friday.
According to honorary Apple Festival board member Mike Hubbard, who arrived on site at 5:30 a.m., the majority of the damage didn’t occur until later.
Board President Craig Crocker said seeing the 80-by-100-foot entertainment tent blown over was the biggest surprise.
“The tent people said this is the first time a tent like this has been brought down,” he said.
Crocker said he has seen snow, rain and wind pelt the festival before, but “never where it took down everything like this.”
If winds subside Friday evening as forecasted, the tent will be put up for the Centerville concert. If the winds continue, a bandshell would be erected, Hubbard said.
Apple Festival volunteers took down the Apple Products tent, as well as some other tents, due to safety concerns.
Most festival vendors not located in tents sustained little damage, except for some signs and awnings.
One point of concern was the Skerbeck Shows carnival. Crocker explained that the rides sustained no damage; only an awning was torn. The carnival follows inspection standards from the State of Indiana, where it is based, and some of the taller rides also have wind barriers.
The carnival was scheduled to open at 3 p.m. Friday.
Crocker said about 100 volunteers had been working since dawn to fix the damage, which he called “a little disappointing” to deal with.
“We’ve got an excellent group of volunteers,” he said. “We will do what we can do to get it up and running.”
Exceptional Citizens’ Day — a designated time for handicapped and senior citizens — was canceled at the festival Friday. Some taller rides were also shut down Thursday night due to the storm.
Niles Fire Chief Larry Lamb, whose department runs first aid and fire safety demonstrations under a tent at the festival in addition to assisting with Exceptional Citizens’ Day, said Friday he wasn’t overly concerned about the wind damage.
“Niles people are pretty resilient,” he said.
The National Weather Service had forecasted at 70 percent chance of showers Friday afternoon until 8 p.m. and wind decreasing to 15 miles per hour. The NWS is forecasting mostly sunny weather Saturday, with a high near 54 degrees and patchy frost after 3 a.m. Sunday. No rain is in the forecast Sunday.
Crocker expects a very high turnout for the festival Saturday, which usually has the highest attendance of the four-day event.
“We’re going to go on. The festival will go on,” he said.
The remaining Apple Festival schedule includes a beer tent from 4 p.m. to midnight; Huntly Baptist puppet shows from 5 p.m. to close; and live music by Centerville at 7 p.m. Friday. The Saturday activities include a pancake breakfast at the Semco Energy Tent from 7 to 11 a.m.; the Community Prayer Breakfast from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at Ring Lardner Middle School; the parade at 1:30 p.m. downtown; Cher impersonator Lisa Irion at 8 p.m.; and fireworks at 10 p.m. Sunday events include a car show; an arts and crafts fair; apple pie eating contest at noon; lip sync contest at 1 p.m.; and Church of Niles service at 4 p.m.
Entrance to the festival, concerts and other events is free. Motorists parking on the grounds are asked to give a $5 donation to the firemen’s association.
For a complete schedule of events, visit www.fourflagsapplefestival.org.