By Woodrow Polston
The Vandalia Area Chamber of Commerce has been preparing for the 2022 Annual Prairie Days event, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 24. The event will kick off at 7 a.m. with a 5K walk/run this year. Vendors will be set up on State Street and ready for business at 10 a.m. The Annual LaFemme Pie Sales will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the Historical Church. The parade will start at 11 a.m.
Although there are always last-minute tasks to be completed, chamber member Ramsey Dickerman, said that they plan all year long for the event.
“As soon as Prairie Days is over, we start planning for the next year’s event,” said Dickerman. “Immediately before the event, we will take care of last-minute details, such as checking in with vendors, bringing in bleachers and other items that will be needed for the public. There are a lot of behind the scenes work that takes place the week of Prairie Days. We are thankful that the fair board has graciously let us use their bleachers for the day. This year we have a band playing that has a good following. The name of the band is Blacktop Mojo Band, and we have had some of their fans reach out to us to inquire about prices for tickets to see them play. They were surprised to learn that the event will be free of charge,” she added.
After the parade this year, there will be a mural dedication that has been painted on one of the buildings along Main Street. There will be games, bounce houses, a petting zoo, horseshoe and cornhole tournaments and a car cruise that will begin at 4:30 p.m.
Chamber member Cami Blackman, said that the event used to be called by another name.
“Before it was Prairie Days, it was called the Brick Skidding event,” said Blackman. “Vandalia was really known for the brick plants back when they were booming. We had them in Vandalia, Farber, Laddonia and Mexico. At the time, Vandalia was the home of the World Brick Skidding Contest. It was a big deal and it used to be depicted on the chamber billboard across from State Street. Last year we had a pallet of bricks on site for a firsthand demonstration. Back then, the event would run two days, as they would have streets blocked off on Friday night for dances,” she added.
While the chamber does a lot of planning all year, and hands-on work the day of the event, it is all made possible by the community as a whole. Dickerman said that they rely on a lot of generous donations to help cover expenses.
“We budget for this all year, and we have a very generous community that helps us. The business community really kicks in and sponsors the event and we are so thankful for all the donations that we receive,” said Dickerman.
The Joey Wray Band will play at 5:30 p.m., with Blacktop Mojo to follow at 8 p.m. Vendor spaces are still available for only $20. For more information, contact Ramsey Dickerman at her State Farm Office on Hwy. 54 in Vandalia.