By Ethan Colbert
Saturday’s Champ Clark Heritage Festival will go on rain or shine, but some events may be modified or scraped all together according to the festival’s organizers who spoke to the Times Monday evening.
“I have heard from a ton of people who are asking about whether or not the festival is still happening,” Sarrah Gigous said in a telephone interview. Gigous is the Executive Director for the local chamber of commerce, which sponsors the annual day-long festival in downtown Bowling Green. According to Gigous, more than 20 individuals have reached out to her via text, email, or by phone about the status of the festival and she is anticipating more vendors to reach out to her between now and Saturday morning.
“I’ve told all of them that the festival is happening rain or shine, but hopefully with more shine,” Gigous said.
According to the National Weather Service, the Bowling Green area is forecasted to receive between 6 to 8 inches of rainfall between Wednesday evening and Saturday morning.
Other weather forecasters are calling for the Bowling Green area to receive more than 8 inches of rainfall during that same time frame.
Gigous said that none of the 90 vendors registered for the festival have contacted her and said they were cancelling their participation. As advertised, Gigous said the chamber of commerce will not be issuing refunds to the vendors who cancel.
“Vendors who have been doing this for a while know to take precautions,” Gigous said. She said in her interview that she has encouraged first time vendors to bring plastic totes to quickly move their merchandise into and weights for their tents should the rains and gusts of winds arrive as forecasted.
The National Weather Service is forecasting that the aforementioned rains will be accompanied by gusts of wind in excess of 10 miles per hour.
Gigous said that due to the forecasted weather, the chamber of commerce has cancelled the beer garden and that the festival’s live music may also cancel.
Also uncertain is the status of the 399th U.S. Army Band from Fort Leonard Wood, which was scheduled to lead the festival’s parade.
Gigous said the band’s commanding officer is going to make a decision regarding the band’s participation sometime on Friday evening.
Other than this change, Gigous said the parade will be held unless there is a significant risk to the health of parade participants or spectators.
“At this point, I don’t even know what criteria we would use to decide to cancel the parade,” Gigous said. “It is an important part of the festival and it is something that everyone looks forward to. So the weather would have to be absolutely terrible, before we would consider cancelling the parade.”
She later added that she and other festival organizers will discuss a contingency plan regarding the parade on Friday evening.
In her interview, Gigous stressed that the she hoped local residents will continue to make plans to attend the festival.
“Right now, the forecast could look terrible but then by Saturday it could be completely cleared up,” Gigous said. “My number one concern right now, and I hope that I am wrong, is that no body will come to the festival because of the forecast. My biggest wish is that everybody comes out and that the vendors have a successful day and that everyone makes fun, positive memories.”