Chad Alleger can’t help it — he’s always a little hoarse the Monday after Prairie Days. The annual celebration, which brings the entire town into Prairie City, is one of the biggest events of the year for Alleger, the mayor of Prairie City. As the event’s master of ceremonies, he had plenty of talking to do over the weekend.
“My voice is shot, it’s not normally this sultry,” Alleger said.
This year’s event saw only minor changes, but Alleger said volunteers have found a system that works for the annual celebration — they’re just concentrating on making a few small tweaks here and there to keep the process running smoothly.
The biggest change this year was the lack of fireworks — something Alleger blames on steadily rising costs. With prices more than double in comparison to past years, the mayor said the planning committee decided to forgo fireworks this year. Although he admitted he’s heard some grumbling from community members, Alleger said as long as the prices stay high it’s unlikely the fireworks will return to the event.
“Cost is the reason we got rid of them, they just priced us out of the budget we had,” Alleger said.
For Christy Lindsay, longtime Prairie City resident, this year’s event went off mostly without a hitch. Lindsay said the planning committee is still looking for more volunteers to help the event run smoothly, and any extra help would be a blessing. With so many responsibilities the planning committee finds itself stretched a little thin during the event.
“We’re always looking for those people that would be willing to be in charge of just one thing,” Lindsay said. “Maybe they are willing to make sure the bands get something to eat.”
Alleger echoed Lindsay’s sentiments. He’d love to get more community members involved with planning the event and volunteering their time to make sure everything runs smoothly. Additional volunteers would make it easier for members of the planning committee to enjoy the event as well, the mayor said.
“If we had more volunteers to do just one activity to free up some of the committee members we could enjoy the event more than we already do,” Alleger said. “Sometimes we’re just busy running around and we can’t really enjoy the event as much as we’d like to.”
As part of the planning committee for Prairie Days, Lindsay said it’s gratifying to see how important the event is to members of the community. Over the weekend she saw plenty of friends and neighbors, as well former residents who’ve moved away but still make plans to head back to Prairie City for the town’s annual bash.
“They come back to their home, I think that’s really what I love about it,” Lindsay said.
Residents and former residents alike had a chance to pay tribute to one of one Prairie City’s most beloved couples as Roberts True Value Hardware owners Mike and Ginny Dalton were honored with a lifetime achievement award over the weekend. Earlier this year the Dalton’s announced they were retiring and putting the hardware store up for sale. Alleger said the Prairie Days planning committee wanted to thank the couple for being such an integral part of the community over the years.
“They’re like parents to everybody, they’re two amazing people,” Alleger said. “Not walking in there and seeing those two smiling faces will be sad.”
Also honored over the weekend was Jeff DeRues. A lifelong Prairie City resident, DeRues helped start a community garden in Prairie City that supplies fresh produce for the town’s food bank, as well other local organizations like Teen Challenge of the Midlands. Called Seeds of Hope, DeRues’ organization has helped bring the community closer together as they help one another, Lindsay said.
“He’s a really great guy and he deserved that,” Lindsay said.
Rounding out the awards, Dodge Garage was also recognized as the business of the year in Prairie City. Run by Rob Hoffmann, the automobile repair shop has won raves for it’s customer service. Lindsay said it’s clear Hoffmann is someone who cares about the community and is community focused. Alleger said when the nomination committee met, Hoffmann was a “slam dunk.”
“He’s fairly new, but his customer service, his dedication to the community is bar none,” Alleger said. “He is Prairie City, I won’t take my car anywhere else.”
Contact David Dolmage at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or firstname.lastname@example.org