Airport may cause relocation of 2013 fair

Published 11:30 am Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Chilton County Fair may be forced to change locations in 2013 due to safety regulations imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at the Chilton County Airport.

President of the Clanton Kiwanis Club Dan Nolen said members of the Kiwanis Club were informed on Oct. 11 that the location of the fair might be in jeopardy due to a proposed airport project that would extend the airport’s runway 1,000 feet to the west.

Nolen said the decision on whether the location will change depends on whether the FAA approves the grant for the runway extension.

“At this point, everything is up in the air,” Nolen said. “We of course want to be prepared in the event we are told we can no longer have the fair in that location.”

Chilton County Airport Authority board member Billy Singleton said the airport has certain safety guidelines that must be met to comply with the FAA.

“It is hard to comply with the guidelines when you have a Ferris wheel and other attractions close to the airport runway,” Singleton said.

Currently, the fairground is adjacent to the airport and is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club and the Agricultural Center Board.

Nolen said the fair has been the Kiwanis Club’s major fundraiser for 10 years with all proceeds from the fair going to fund scholarships for six high school seniors, one from each school in the county.

“There are contingency plans being made of where we might go if the airport gets the grant for the runway,” Nolen said. “We don’t want to find out right before the fair that we have to find another location so we are exploring our options.”

Nolen said the 2012 fair had a boost in ticket sales with the demolition derby and bike act drawing large crowds.

“We plan to grow the fair more and more every year,” Nolen said. “It seems like the last three years we have had almost perfect temperatures with beautiful sunshine that draws a lot of people outdoors.”

Although Nolen would prefer for the location of the fair to stay the same, he wants the Kiwanis Club to have an alternative plan of relocating as soon as possible.

“We have a good thing going with the current location, and I don’t want to move,” Nolen said. “We just don’t really want to be caught unprepared without a plan if the grant is approved at the airport. I have spoken with Mayor Billy Joe Driver, the county engineer, and some others about different options we could explore.”

Singleton said the application for the grant had been submitted, and the airport board was working with the Kiwanis Club to resolve the issue.

The extension of the runway is part of a widespread project including resurfacing the runway, upgrading the lighting systems, extending the runway, and a parallel taxiway with several other projects.