‘It’s good to be around people again,’: Local festival kicks off fair season in Vigo Co.

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — On time and at Fairbanks Park; people, vendors and rides all celebrated opening night of the Banks of the Wabash Festival. It marks one of the biggest events held in Terre Haute since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year’s event was delayed and then replace due to coronavirus.

With no masks or capacity limits required, this may be the first sign of a normal summer. General Manger of Luehrs Ideal Rides Andrew Schoendienst, said it’s the company’s return to festivals after months of cancellations.

“This is one of our first larger events we’re coming out to this year,” he said. “Coming out of this past year, it feels wonderful. We’re kicking off summer in Terre Haute. We’ve done this for over 40 years here.”

Unlike last year’s event, no COVID-19 restrictions will be enforced, according to the Vigo County Health Department.

Richard Fitch and his family attended opening night at Fairbanks Park. They said their evening was about more than just rides.

“We were all pretty darn isolated. It’s just nice to able to get out and spend time with people again. Especially starting outside with summer going on; you can stay outside, it’s relatively safe,” Fitch said. “Frankly, it’s good to be around people for a change,”

With COVID-19 cases decreasing in Vigo County, Fitch said it makes him hopeful for what’s to come.

“Oh yeah, we’re getting back there. As long as we don’t have any weird variants coming and messing things up, I think we’re going to be okay,”‘ he said.

Schoendienst agreed saying after his business traveled to multiple cities this year, Terre Haute’s COVID-19 mitigation strategies have been effective.

“Terre Haute has done a really good job of getting things under control from what I’ve seen. It feels like a sense of normalcy. People seem more comfortable to be here compared to last year,” he said.

Banks of the Wabash will continue until next weekend. A different promotional deal will run each night.

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