Annual events reappear…sort of

Posted 5/19/20

For the past couple of months, most social, fundraising and other events around the county, state and country have had a distinct similarity: Cancelled.

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Annual events reappear…sort of


For the past couple of months, most social, fundraising and other events around the county, state and country have had a distinct similarity: Cancelled.

As Texas begins to re-open, there’s a glimmer of hope that big, annual events – such as the Texas Mushroom Festival and the Madisonville Sidewalk Cattlemen’s Association annual dinner – may go off as normal, if not as originally planned.

The North Zulch Ex-Students Association got creative with its annual fish fry scholarship fundraiser, set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 7. Instead of gathering folks into one building with the promise of fried fish and hush puppies, the meals will be offered on a to-go basis only at the North Zulch School.

According to a flyer sent by e-mail from Keeli Rogers, president of the association, the fundraiser generated $3,500 in scholarship money last year.

For this year, they’ll operate on a drive-thru basis, seeking donations of any amount, though suggesting $10 per plate.

Some events are much later in the year, though a bit of preparation for the worst-case scenario.

The annual Madisonville Sidewalk Cattlemen’s Association Steak Dinner and Dance, usually held the first weekend in May, has been tentatively moved to July 10, pending further information.

“That is, if we’re allowed to (hold the event),” said MSCA president Brent Viator. “It’s a little less than two months away and we’re just sitting and waiting.”

City officials are similarly waiting further instruction from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott about its annual July 4 celebration. State guidelines for reopening have kept the city from reopening facilities, as disinfecting by the rules would require staffing that is not always feasible.

“We just have to have a plan in place first,” said City Manager Camilla Viator.

According to city officials, if the state doesn’t explicitly allow events like the parade, the city will still hold a fireworks show on July 4, but on a drive-thru basis that will allow spectators to sit outside with proper social distancing.

Other events even further down the road haven’t had to change plans yet, but recognize that situation may change.

“Postponing has been mentioned, but as of now, there are no immediate plans,” said Jill Barnes, president of the Texas Mushroom Festival board. “Those details will be discussed in the coming months to still leave enough time for any changes that we need to make.”

The festival is currently planned for Oct. 17.

The pandemic has allowed for some progress on other fronts, including the first remodel of the now-dormant Truman Kimbro Center in 20 years.

Laura Lawrenz, the city’s director of marketing and tourism, said Tuesday that the remodel included new carpeting, paint, light fixtures, renovations on the men’s and women’s bathrooms and a new roof for the facility. Work should be completed by the end of May.

Supplies for the remodel were donated by the Madisonville Area Revitalization Initiative, Madison County Chamber of Commerce and the Madison County Economic Development Corporation. Labor ended up being, well, less expensive.

“I did the labor myself, along with two members from the House of Hope,” Lawrenz said.