The big project: cleaning up the fairgrounds
It's just about fair time again. However, there is still one obstacle to overcome: Cleaning up the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds.
On Sunday, fair board members and other volunteers gathered at the fairgrounds, which was hit hard during the May 11 tornado.
"Today we are just trying to get a lot of the bigger stuff cleaned up," said David Todd, president of the fair board.
About 50 people pitched in, despite the sweltering afternoon weather conditions, to get the fairgrounds ready for the fair, which runs Aug. 8 through 12.
"There's not as much to clean up as I thought there would be," Todd said.
After the tornado hit in May, damages were estimated at least $300,000. Some people might have postponed the county fair, but Todd and his bunch didn't even consider it. The tornado damaged every building at the fairgrounds in some way, but that wasn't enough to sway Todd's outlook. The sheep barn and the west side of the administration building sustained the most damage.
It's not a matter of whether the fairgrounds will be ready for the fair. It is a necessity that things get done.
"We'll be ready," Todd said. "We just have to be."
Bob Adams, county commissioner, visited with volunteers on Sunday. He echoed Todd's statements.
"It's gonna happen," Adams said. "It is tried and proven that these kind of organizations have withstood a lot of storms. When the fair opens up, the proof will be seen. When these people get together, they make it happen."
The Saturday following the tornado, about 75 volunteers helped clean up some of the twisted metal, insulation and shingles that littered the area. However, there was still plenty of cleaning up left for the volunteers Sunday.
After the tornado, Todd was worried about electrical power to the fairgrounds. He is still worried.
"Wiring is our biggest problem right now," Todd said. "Once we get the electric up, we'll be a lot better off."
KPL workers started working to repair the electrical line damages that still existed Tuesday.
The newest problem is the lights around the arena are shot. At the fair board meeting Monday night, members discussed options but did not come to any conclusions.
The Sunday before the fair actually starts, Aug. 6, there will be the annual fair cleanup. The fair board work the Friday before, Aug. 4, to do any work and fixing up that is required.
"We've got one heck of a mess to still clean up," Todd said.