WHITESVILLE - It turns out the fine folks in this town will get their fair share of funnel cakes and ferris wheels after all.
The once-cancelled-and-now-rescheduled Big Coal River Festival is set for Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Whitesville Elementary School football field.
Gates will open at 6:30 p.m. and close at 11 p.m. each night.
Admission is free.
“We are trying to make it family-friendly,” Whitesville councilwoman Susan Landy said.
Whitesville officials originally scheduled the 12th annual event for the first week of August, but they had to cancel it because Ohio-based Nolan Amusements - the carnival company it booked for the fun-filled festival - went bankrupt.
The problem is, nobody told Whitesville Mayor Fred Harless or his fellow officials. They didn’t know the carnival company couldn’t come until two days before the festival was scheduled to start.
Needless to say, Harless and the other officials were in a tight spot. Unable to find another carnival company, they decided to cancel the celebration.
“The community was devastated, especially the children,” Landy said.
Harless and Landy tried to find other carnival companies to fill the void, but all of the ones they contacted were either booked or bankrupt. They thought that was the end of the story.
“I just assumed we weren’t going to have one,” Landy said.
It was an accurate assumption until she unexpectedly found a replacement. She was driving through Wyoming County one day for her job when she saw workers setting up carnival rides in a lot.
Landy told Harless about the carnival company - Georgia-based Carr Amusements - later that evening. She persuaded him to drive to the carnival site that night.
With his wife, his baby and his colleague in tow, Harless headed to Oceana. There, Harless and Landy reached an agreement with carnival owner and operator Frank Carr to bring his ten rides, four games and two vendors Whitesville this week.
“It just so happened that they had this week open,” Landy said. “It was short notice for everybody, but it worked out. Our community will get to have its carnival now.”
Town officials normally attach other events to the carnival - think car shows and cutie contests. That isn’t the case this year, however, because of the short notice.
Carrie Lou Jarrell is organizing the entertainment for the festival.
Thursday will be karaoke night from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday will be gospel night. BeBe Cole will perform from 8 to 9 p.m. followed by Songsmen and Linda from 9 to 11 p.m.
Jarrell still is searching for a Saturday act. At press time, she was waiting to hear from Freda Cooper and the Mountain Gold Band.
“It’s running mighty close,” she said. “It’s hard to get a band on short notice. If I don’t find one, you might see me up there with a drum set. I’m getting desperate.”
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