West Liberty —
The sight and sound of buzzing crafts tents along a Main Street filled with live music and dancing mixed perfectly with the smell of sorghum molasses cooking just over the hill.
With all the excitement and good vibes surrounding the Morgan County Sorghum Festival in West Liberty this year, the rubble in the background left from the March 2nd tornado seemed out of place.
Morgan County Judge-Executive Tim Conley said the festival is a sign that Morgan County has not given up and it's this sense of normalcy the town needs and deserves
“It's one of the grandest things we can do for this community,” Conley said. “Had we not had the Sorghum Festival this year, I'm afraid the community would have feared, you know, maybe we're defeated.”
The festival has been an annual Morgan County celebration on the last weekend of September for 42 years and this year was no let down.
Townies and tourists alike made up the estimated 20,000 folks in attendance and it was easy to see the happiness of the people as the parade ambled passed them.
Some familiar faces returned to show support for their old hometown.
Debb Wilder and Pam Allen, of Fairborn, Ohio, came back to West Liberty for family and to once again experience the county ritual. The sisters broke into a dance when the live bluegrass band lit into a fast-pace standard.
“I think it says a lot for this community, they have brought it together and are letting tradition live,” Wilder said.
The vendor stands were bustling and some even had trouble keeping their items in stock.
Morgan County historian Lynn Nickells' self-published photography book, “How Sweet it Was!,” about the town's March tragedy, sold out all 550 copies the first day of the festival.
“We're going to rebuild and be West Liberty once again,” Nickells said.