TERRE HAUTE —
Concession stands and amusement rides lined the lawn, waiting for a crowd.
Vendors and volunteers alike labored amid warm sunshine Wednesday, preparing Fairbanks Park for tonight’s opening of the 29th Annual Banks of the Wabash Festival. A warm and sunny weekend forecast had participants optimistic while working away.
This year’s festival opens at 6 tonight and runs through June 2.
Dannie Moreland, owner of Moreland’s Family Concessions, was among those setting up trailers full of food Wednesday evening. An annual vendor since the festival’s beginning nearly 30 years ago, the Florida-based businessman said he enjoys returning to Terre Haute each year for the week.
“It’s a nice little festival,” he said, explaining his stand offers steak-and-cheese sandwiches, fried green tomatoes, onion rings and other fried vegetables. “I’ve been coming here for so long I know everybody, and they all know our good food.”
This year, Moreland said he hopes for a strong turnout given the recent dip in gasoline prices and clear weather forecast.
Andy Luehr, president of Luehr’s Ideal Rides, said even if temperatures get a little hot, there will be plenty of lemon shakeups and other fruity drinks to cool people.
“Carnivals are an event that families can enjoy together,” he said, emphasizing that alcohol is prohibited from the park during this event.
State inspectors were inside Fairbanks Park all day Wednesday checking out the rides, he said. Among the rides is a new spinning roller-coaster, The African Twist, that has been added to the lineup. Another addition is The Starship, a replica of a spaceship that spins its riders into weightlessness.
“It defies gravity,” he said.
Luehr’s company works 27 festivals a year, and the one at Fairbanks Park is a favorite, he said, adding his group has been providing entertainment here since 1975.
“We always look forward to coming to Terre Haute,” he remarked, crediting the Terre Haute City Parks and Recreation Department as an excellent partner.
Originally known as the Banks of the Wabash Festival, the event operated as such between 1974 and 1983, changing names to The Wabash Valley Festival from 1984 to 2005. In 2006 the event became known as the Fairbanks Park Arts and Music Festival, changing back to Banks of the Wabash Festival in 2010.
Name changes aside, from the food to the Fun Slide, much remains the same.
Mary Ann Morris, busy preparing a Sati Babi tent, said she’s been to just about every one of the annual festivals there. And of her own fare offered, she’s not picky.
“I like them all,” she said of the Sati Babi and egg roll products. “I’m not partial.”
The midway opens at 6 p.m. today with “Bargain Night,” a special where all rides take just one ticket. The Octane Band will perform from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or email@example.com.
TERRE HAUTE —
Concession stands and amusement rides lined the lawn, waiting for a crowd.
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