Fair on the Square returns to Rusk

by Jo Anne Embleton news@thecherokeean.com

RUSK – The return of Fair on the Square – now in its 33rd year –is generating a lot of excitement, with folks anticipating a day of food, fun and entertainment on Saturday, May 29.

“People are definitely surprised – everybody loves the fair,” said Amy Walley, director of the Rusk Public Library and co-owner of The Slab ice cream parlor located just off the Rusk downtown square. “It’s a welcomed event – anything that brings people and tourists to town is amazing.”

According to Rusk Chamber manager Josie Fox, “we’ve seen a lot of excitement surrounding the fair, from both vendors and those wishing to attend the event.

“People are genuinely excited to have the fair back this year and to have it back on Memorial Day weekend,” she said, adding, “our Health Alley has really garnered a lot of attention as it will include a blood drive, workout area/challenges, vendors and information booths.”

With more than 50 – and counting – vendors and information booths involved, the event is back in full force after having to cancel in 2020 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Walley said the ice creamery opened last June and had anticipated participating in the 2020 event, which had been rescheduled for fall, but was cancelled because of the pandemic.

This year, though, Slab employees are looking forward to the crowds, as are the library staff.

“We’re going to have a book sale hosted by our Friends of the Library, so folks can buy books, while the paintings created by Rusk State Hospital patients will be on sale over at the Slab,” she said.

Meanwhile, several new components have been added to this year’s event.

“This includes Health Alley, a cornhole tournament, a car & bike show, the Go Texan vendor area and an AirStream Travel Trailer group that will have several models on display and will host an open house,” Fox said.

Carter BloodCare will be at Health Alley with its mobile unit, hosting a blood drive from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during the fair.

And, while a 5K event traditionally has been part of the festival, “this will be the first year we host the 5K Warrior Run where a portion of the proceeds will go back to help veterans in Cherokee County,” Fox said.

The 5K event begins with a 7 a.m. registration, followed by the 8:30 a.m. race. Participants – who have the option to run in person or virtually – can contact organizers at fortheloveofnutritionrusk@gmail.com or info@ruskchamber.com for more information.

Also, additional activities and events will be held at the Footbridge Park, with access to the park on Lone Oak Street available only by foot traffic.

The Cherokeean Herald will publish a map furnished by the chamber of streets blocked off for both the run and around the square – with streets around the courthouse to be blocked off beginning Saturday morning – along with a schedule of events.

“Seeing the community so excited and all the participation from vendors and groups shows how much the people of this area care about Rusk and the tradition of Fair on the Square,” Fox said, noting that certain health precautions will be taken for those concerned about COVID-19.

“As this is an outside event, and with the recent announcements from Gov. Abbott, we will not require that those in attendance wear face masks,” she said. “However, the Chamber information booth will have hand sanitizer and there will be restrooms available where attendees can wash hands.”

A porta-john-trailer rented from the City of Jacksonville, along with restrooms located at the local library and at For the Love of Nutrition, offer air conditioning and sinks for hand washing.

Individuals who feel ill – or running a fever, believe they may have been exposed to the virus – are asked to practice safety protocols