Bloomsburg Fair Dedicated to Volunteers

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BLOOMSBURG-- The Bloomsburg Fair is in full-swing, one year after Mother Nature canceled it for the first time in its more than 150-year history.

Flood waters devastated the fairgrounds last September and had volunteers coming out to help clean up and get ready for this year's opening weekend.

After a year's absence, fair officials said more than 22,000 people turned out for Friday's preview day.

They came out in droves again Saturday as the fair officially got underway.

Fair officials said all the fun this year would not have been possible without the help of hundreds of volunteers.

Thousands of people strolled the Bloomsburg fairgrounds opening day, enjoying all the 157th annual fair has to offer: food, fun and more.

It was quite a different scene from one year ago. Officials said this fair is dedicated to the hundreds of volunteers who helped make it happen.

"Without some of the people pulling together, we would not have been able to put this thing together and we can`t thank them enough," said William Barratt, Bloomsburg Fair Superintendent of Police and Parking, who also helped coordinate all the volunteers.

Last year, the fairgrounds had no people, no vendors, just water. Flooding forced the cancellation of the fair for the first time in its history.

Signs throughout the fair show just how high the flood waters came last September. Fair officials said it took nearly 500 volunteers weeks of hard work to get the fairgrounds back to normal.

Weeks after the flooding, volunteers came out to clean the livestock pens by scrubbing rails and more to get ready for livestock shows then, and now, so people like Mark Getz and his daughter can enjoy all the animals.

"It's beautiful what they did here. It's amazing what they've done," said Mark Getz of Brodheadsville. "It`s amazing how many people they can get to come out and it just shows you the tradition of the fair. That`s what`s huge in Bloomsburg, the tradition of the Bloomsburg Fair, and it`s great and that`s why everybody came out and helped."

In April, hundreds of volunteers were again scrubbing equipment and painting benches.

Some were vendors like Cheri Bissinger, whose family has been operating Bissinger's Apple Dumplings since 1962.

"We shoveled mud and then we sqeegeed and then we power-washed and then we power-washed again. We just took a building a day and just kept working our way down through," said Bissinger.

Bissinger and vendor John Koutoufaris, who also volunteered, said it was their way of giving back to the fair and the community.

"I`ve been coming here for 30 years. My kids went to college, and so all this put food on my table, and I want to say thank you to them," said Koutoufaris, who operates the "John the Greek" stands.

It was a lot of hard work, but worth it to get an area staple back up and running.

"We do have one of the best fairs around," said Barratt. "I know the people that are coming to this fair are going to enjoy what we did."

Fair officials said the volunteers were given free tickets to the fair as a thank you and a way to enjoy the benefits of all their cleanup efforts.

The Bloomsburg Fair runs through next Saturday.