Bollinger County debates festival's future

Sunday, April 5, 2009

MARBLE HILL, Mo. -- Bollinger County Chamber of Commerce president Donnia Mayfield is at her wits' end wondering if the community wants to continue the Fall Festival or Bollinger County Fair -- whatever it will be called -- enough to help organize it.

Mayfield has said that planning last year's festival took the better part of a year to plan. The chamber, which puts on the festival, cannot afford to pay an event planner, although it had considered that option.

At the most recent meeting of the chamber, some members questioned an earlier chamber decision to change the date of the festival, as well as the name to make it the Bollinger County Fair. Members of the Cat Ranch Art Guild, which has an event in conjunction with the festival, objected to the date change and said it would not change its plans to accommodate the festival.

"Who's to say we can't have more than one thing a month in this county?" Mayfield said. "Why can't we have events on two separate days and give people more opportunity to come to our community?"

Mayfield added that a fair on the first weekend of the month would benefit people who are on a fixed income and get their checks at the beginning of the month.

A Bollinger County fair could be a success if enough people got involved in it, Mayfield said. She has held planning meetings where only a few people have showed up. She has called for volunteer help, with little response.

"The future of our fair is in jeopardy with no volunteers," she said.

The East Perry Community Fair in Altenburg, Mo., and the SEMO District Fair in Cape Girardeau are both run by volunteers. According to board member Fred Eggers, Altenburg is governed by a nine-member board that oversees about 30 committee chairmen.

"That group does the planning," Eggers said. "As far as volunteer workers, that's up around 300. We definitely could not have a fair without volunteers."

Mayfield said as far as she is concerned, the date of the fair will be the first weekend in October and does not need to be changed again. What she needs from the community, she said, is less bickering, less confusion and more commitment.

Those willing to help may volunteer by calling 573-450-7153 or 573-450-4905 or by e-mailing dmayfield@bocoabst.com.

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