Fair holds Friends with Disability Day

Published 12:11 pm Thursday, July 20, 2023

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On Friday morning, the Lincoln County fair was open bright and early for a special friends with disability day. The day included opportunities for those with special needs to have a fun day at the fair with out the large crowds, noises and lights. Volunteers created a sensory area to allow the fair goers a quiet place to rest.

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The idea for the day came about when Lincoln County Fair Board member Betty Bridgman heard of a family who previously had to travel to Pulaski County so her daughter with special needs could enjoy a day at the fair.

“When I went to the other fair board members they said lets do it,” Bridgman said. “I knew to get Denise Bastion to help out, she knows all these families and how to get a hold of them. She just ran with it. She teaches at Crab Orchard Elementary, so she knew how to get in touch. There is even an Amish family and she went to their house to let them know about since they don’t have Internet or access to social media. We have more volunteers than participants right now but they keep rolling in. These people wouldn’t normally get a chance to come out here. Moving someone in a wheelchair through a large crowd or those with sensory issues don’t like the flashing lights and loud music. Kissel (Entertainment) has been great, most other fair groups would only open a couple rides for something like this but they have opened 15.”

It wasn’t just Lincoln County residents who came to the fair that day.

“I sent out fliers and immediately started getting responses,” said Denise Bastion. “I have worked with a lot of these families since their children were 3. As word got out to them they started spreading it to others. We have people from Lexington and Somerset. It is awesome. I didn’t know if we would have 50 people or 500 people turn up. We wanted to be prepared so we didn’t turn away any volunteers including the Lincoln County football team and some of the cheerleaders.”

One volunteer, Brandy Cable, was glad to have day where her daughter with Autism, Elliana, could enjoy the rides at the fair.

“The opportunity to have the fair with lower sensory is great for the kids,” Cable said. “It is great for the community to show they want to everybody and let everyone have a great time. Elliana loves roller coasters of any kind. I knew about the one in Somerset but not everybody has the opportunity to drive to a different county. This is giving them opportunities they wouldn’t have every day or in the summer.”

Sponsors for the Friends with Disabilities Day were Kissel Entertainment, the Lincoln County Fair, Atomic Gym, Lincoln County Schools, Dave and Betty Bridgeman, Martha and Denise Bastion, the Lincoln County Extension office and HeBrews Coffee.