The year without a PAF

By: 
DONNA SUMMERALL
Staff Writer

So many things did not happen in 2020 because of COVID-19. There were no large gatherings to mourn the loss of loved ones, there were no church weddings to celebrate a couple's new life together, there were no proms, no graduation ceremonies, no celebrations and family gatherings, and for the first time in 42 years, West Point will not have a Prairie Arts Festival.

"I know everyone is disappointed," Lisa Klutts, director of the PAF, said. "It was decided in the best interest of public health that this year’s Prairie Arts Festival be cancelled. I had considered a modified festival at first. I had already announced there would not be a 5K. But it just wasn't feasible."

Klutts along with a board of volunteers, made the tough decision, to completely cancel the festival for 2020.
Klutts said if they can cancel the Neshoba County Fair, that has been an annual event for 131 years, due to the novel coronavirus, it may be best to cancel the Prairie Arts Festival, as well.
"I hate that it had to be this way," Klutts said. "Even if I could have spread the vendors out enough, from a coordinating standpoint, it would have been a nightmare."
She said it would be irresponsible to continue, there is no way to limit exposure even with the all of the precautions and guidelines in place.

"I have had complete support in this decision," Klutts said. "It involves so many people, the West Point Police, the Clay County Sheriff's Department, the Department of Public Works, the city. I do not do this alone. I have a small army of volunteers. They were the ones who let me know I was doing the right thing. Everyone agreed unanimously to cancel this year."
Planning for an event the size of the PAF is a monumental undertaking. The planning for the next year's event begins the day after it is over.
"Now I do take a vacation after it is all over with," Klutts said. "But the hard core planning begins in January."

A highlight of the PAF, is the David O. Malone Student Art Contest. The winners are announced at the Bryan Public Library, every year. Chapman Hill's design won second place during PAF 2019.
"We had already decided to use Chapman Hill's design for the T-shirts," Klutts said. "It will not have a windmill on the back and it will not have 42 annual Prairie Arts Festival on it. We are thinking of adding the 2020, so people can see the shirt and remember that we didn't have the festival in 2020. But we may leave if out."

The shirts can be purchased online at the Prairie Arts Festival website, or can be ordered from the Growth Alliance.
"The shirts come in youth sizes small through large for $15," Klutts said. "Adult small through extra large for $20 or XXL and XXXL for $25. The order will be sent up Monday, July 20 at noon. There will be a few available at the Farmer's Market, July 25. We usually buy a lot but this year, it's best to buy them online or call us at the Growth Alliance to make sure we have your size."
To purchase the T-shirts, visit prairieartsfestival.org with a debit or credit card, or call 494-5121, before Monday, July 20.

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