MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD)— On Tuesday, the West Monroe Civitan Club voted to cancel the 2021 Ark-La-Miss Fair, held annually at the Monroe Civic Center; citing uncertainty of the length of Hurricane Ida evacuees being housed at the Civic Center.
Currently there are over 350 evacuees being housed at the Civic Center.
The fair was originally set to run October 1-10.
“Last week, I was about 80-90 percent sure we were going to have this year’s fair,” said Fair Board chairman Mike Shields. “After this weekend’s events in southeastern Louisiana, we had to make a decision. Today was our drop-dead date. And, we very much regret we had to.
“We’re in the middle of the hurricane season and historically when a storm like Ida affects an area like Katrina did, our region draws thousands of evacuees in our civic centers, rec centers and similar facilities,” said Shields. “The difference in this year with Ida and Katrina 16 years ago is the evacuees at the Civic Center were transferred and housed at the old State Farm building. Homeland Security folks tell us that capacity is not available this year.”
According to a press release, the rise in COVID cases brought on by the Delta Variant was also a concern.
“We, of course, already had our concerns about COVID implications with the new Delta Variant and not wanting to be a super spreader type event, but Belle City Amusements have been on the road since January with very few problems dealing with the virus,” said Shields. “With our numbers up in this area and hospitals packed with victims, we just had to make a decision today on the overall conditions.”
Other events affected by the cancellation include the ABBA Brahman Bull Points Show and the ArkLaMiss Open Livestock Show and the annual Arts and Crafts Show. All entry money that has been already sent in will be refunded.
Fair vendors typically buy their supplies for the fair 30 days prior to opening day. “If we had to cancel any sooner, those charities might lose that expense money and that’s not good,” Shields said.
The Ark-La-Miss Fair is a major fundraiser for the Civitan Club; allowing more than an average of $55,000 each year to go back into local community charities, according to Civitan Club President Wes Mouk.
“With last year’s cancelation on top to this year’s it’s been tough for us,” but we’ll survive, thanks to our Civitan Club’s financial management,” said Mouk.