Charleston’s first-ever Fall Festival, slated for 4 p.m. Saturday at the South Franklin County Fairgrounds, 310 Freedom Road in Charleston, will not only provide family-friendly fun, but also raise funds for Charlie Hartsell and his family, who lost their auto parts and repair business in a Sept. 5 fire.
Shortly after the fire destroyed Hartsell’s business, H&H Rebuilders, which he opened in 1975 and later moved to 108 N. Logan St. near the downtown area, Charleston Mayor Sherman Hiatt and other community members had plans to organize a fundraiser for the family, who had no insurance on the approximately 100-year-old building.
“Charlie’s been a part of this community since the 1970s when he started that business,” explained Hiatt. “He just served our community so well — all the farmers and the car owners — when he’s worked on their cars and tractors and saved them a lot of money.
“He’s just a really nice guy,” Hiatt added. “There’s been a tremendous outpouring of support from the public. They’ve shown a real sense of concern.”
Donations have flooded the fall festival committee formed to organize the event. A menu of chili, beans, cornbread and desserts has been donated, along with items for a live auction.
Live entertainment will feature Bluegrass Thoroughbreds, Nobody’s Darlins, Kaleb McIntire and Hellcat Susie, several of which feature local musicians.
While the music is playing, youngsters will enjoy the inflatables, face painting and rock climbing wall. A 50/50 raffle also will be held during the event, which has free admission.
“We’re just going to have a nice, family evening,” said Tonya Sneed, Hiatt’s administrative assistant. “And then you’re going to be doing something for someone, too.”
Sneed said since the fire, she has heard story after story about how Hartsell helped someone in the community by either saving them money or doing a quality job in a timely manner.
“Everyone you run into had a story where he had helped them out,” Sneed said of Hartsell. “I keep hearing these stories. Almost everyone in town has had him help them in some way … and in surrounding communities, too.”
Hiatt said community members have donated space and used equipment for Hartsell to be able to continue to operate his business.
“H&H is up and operating,” Hiatt said, “but he wants to get back into his own place where he’ll have more room.”
Hiatt and other organizers are hoping to give Hartsell a good start on rebuilding H&H Rebuilders.
“I don’t have any idea what (the fall festival) will raise; I know people have already contributed to him directly,” Hiatt said, adding that area business owners have set out collection jars for donations. “We hope to raise $10,000 for him; that don’t sound like a whole lot, but it’ll give him a good start.”