EAST PALESTINE - The annual street fair is coming back to Market Street, and this year's rides will feature a 60-foot-tall Ferris wheel that is only one of three manufactured in the United States.
Chamber of Commerce President Don Elzer said the fair scheduled Thursday through Sunday is generating a lot of excitement in town.
"The amount of excitement in town about this event is incredible. This is going to be one of the biggest things to happen here in a long, long time," he said.
This is the first year the Chamber has organized the event that began 126 years ago at the village park, which was once the fairgrounds.
In 1935 the America Legion Post 31 brought the fair to Market Street but in 1999 the event was rerouted to a side street as a result of construction and other things.
The fair has remained off Market Street since that time, mostly because there were some obstacles to bringing it back, all of which have now been overcome, Elzer said.
"People got used to it not being on main street," he said referring to Market Street, which is a main street through town.
The fair was also kept off Market Street the last several years because of electrical issues. In the past the village had to provide electric for the rides and doing so on Market Street would prove to be expensive, Elzer explained.
Over time companies began providing their own electric so that is no longer an obstacle, he said.
Another obstacle was whether closing a portion of Market Street for four days would have a negative impact on businesses there.
"The logistics of closing down the main street through town is pretty complicated," he said.
But the Chamber is familiar with those logistics since it has organized car cruises there over the years.
The portion of Market Street that will be closed off to vehicle traffic is from the village administrative offices south to Main Street, and Rebecca Street one block in each direction. Meadow Lane, which is an alley before Main Street, will also be closed off, he said.
The fair will open to the public at 5 p.m. Thursday and remain open until 11 p.m. that evening.
Elzer said some food vendors will be available during lunch time throughout the fair.
The Chamber is working closely with the American Legion on the event to ensure a smooth transition. The Legion announced last year it would no longer be sponsoring the fair, although it will be hosting bingo two nights during the event.
"The Legion did an incredible job," Elzer said. "They did this for 85 years. It takes an incredible discipline, incredible willpower to do that. If in 85 years the Chamber is doing this I will be proud."
Others helping to make this year's fair a success are a group of about 20 volunteers organized by Shirley Glavin. Volunteers include Chamber and non-Chamber members and more are welcomed, Elzer said.
Raffle tickets and T-shirts are already being sold at area merchants and proceeds will be put into a fund for next year's fair.
Rides for this year's fair are provided by Bates Amusements, the same company featured at the Canfield Fair.
It is the first time Bates Amusements has provided rides for the street fair, and Karen Bates said they are looking forward to it.
"We invite everybody to come and have some fun," she said.
In addition to the 60-foot-tall Ferris wheel, other rides will feature the popular Scrambler, traditional merry-go-round and a giant slide. Rides for children will also be provided, she said.
Elzer said having a "quality ride company" is a "key ingredient" to the whole program.
The Chamber contacted Bates after going over a list of licensed amusements in Ohio and the company was their first choice, he said.