The second week of October annually brings the smell of funnel cakes, the sound of children laughing, and a sense of nostalgia filled with memories from previous Livingston Parish Fair celebrations. This October, the fair will not only have its 80th anniversary celebration, but also will celebrate its return to the community after the cancellation last year due to the Great Flood of 2016.
The Livingston Parish Fair planted its roots in the town of Livingston in 1937 at the Livingston Parish Fairgrounds located on Hwy. 190. The annual celebration has continuously been an event to celebrate the culture and community that Livingston Parish has to offer and cherishes most.
President Lynn Palmer Sibley has invested countless years in helping the fair become the great event that it is today. Her family had previously been involved in the management of the association and has since taken over the family tradition, along with her husband, Robin.
“The fair is such a grand celebration for all of the communities throughout Livingston Parish. It is the perfect way for everyone to come together and rejoice in the bonds we have rooted in this parish and enjoy activities that highlight the youth in our community,” Sibley said.
What would have been the 79th Livingston Parish Fair in 2016 was forced into closure due to the Great Flood of 2016. The fairgrounds is one of the only large lots in the entire parish that had enough space to house the enormous amount of flooded vehicles, therefore the fair worked with the parish to transition the area into a demolition lot.
Sibley said, “This was only the fourth time in the history of the fair that we were forced into a cancellation. As hard as it was to make this call, it was more important for us to focus on rebuilding our community and getting everyone’s lives back to normal.”
Normal is something that the fair is focusing on re-establishing, but there are some key factors that will not be present at this year’s festivities.
The main office located on the fairgrounds was a complete loss, along with past fair memorabilia, historical artifacts, awards for the pageant and rodeo contests, and all important documents for fair business.
Not only was this building damaged, but one of two activity barns as well. This building was the home of the infamous “Fun Bowl” which was a day of “Minute to Win It” style competitions among student representatives of each school throughout Livingston Parish.
Vice-President Joseph “Rip” Jones said, “Fun Bowl is one of the most anticipated events of the entire fair week. The students love the competition and earning bragging rights for their respective schools. We’re fortunate that our “Green Barn” did not suffer much damage so we can still host the event. It is simply in a much smaller area.”
Even though these minor adjustments are having to be made, the fair is expected to be back bigger and better than ever.
The 78th Livingston Parish Fair Queen Mackenzie Johnson Watts is looking forward to being able to reign over this year’s celebration. SInce her fair was cancelled last year, the fair board decided to award her with her scholarship and formally end her reign so that she could compete for other titles since she fulfilled her contract. Watts has since gotten married, but the fair board is glad to allow her to reign over this year’s fair and allow her to crown the 80th Livingston Parish Fair Queen.
Watts said, “It is such a blessing that I am getting to have an official fair week. This was something that I had been looking forward to since I was a little girl. I completely understood why the fair was cancelled last year, but it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t completely heartbroken.”
She describes fair week as a time filled with eating funnel cakes and candy apples, riding the “Ring of Fire” with her younger sisters, and watching the rodeo with her now-husband, Brennan.
“I can’t wait to experience the fair as the queen. The board members work so hard to make this event as special as possible for all of the attendees. I am proud to be the face of this great organization and celebrate our special community for a week,” Watts said.
The Livingston Parish Fair week is kicked off with the annual parade on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 10 a.m. The lineup will include local businesses, fair royalty, as well as horse riders from throughout the parish. Anyone is invited to participate in the parade, which will run from Will Hughes Road and end at the fairgrounds with float judging to follow.
The official commencement of fair will occur on Tuesday, Oct. 10 with family night, where all ride armbands on the Mitchell Brothers Midway will be $15. All home economics and livestock exhibits will be open for viewing, as well as the spelling bee competition for students in the parish.
Jones said, “Wednesday is our most special day of the entire fair week. We dedicate this day to the special needs students in our community. The entire day is available for the students to ride on the midway without the long lines, lunch is available, and we have the Green Barn set up for dancing. It is such a wonderful day to see these students enjoying themselves during their own special time.”
Other events throughout the week include “Old Folks Day” on Thursday and various livestock judgings, poster contests, and midway specials.
On Saturday, Oct. 14, the Livingston Parish Fair PCA Rodeo sponsored by RAM RODEO will begin at 8 p.m. just after the commencement of the Miss Livingston Parish Fair Queen selection.
The pageant will selection a young woman between the ages of 17 and 23 who will represent Livingston Parish at various fairs and festivals throughout the state of Louisiana, as well as at the Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals Queen of Queens Pageant in February 2018.The young ladies will compete in personal interview, onstage beauty, and onstage question portions of competition.
Watts said, “I cannot wait to see who will fill my shoes and who will play a small part in helping to keep this wonderful fair alive and thriving in our community.”
To obtain forms or the official itinerary, please visit www.livingstonparishfair.org.