In Chalon-sur-Saône, fairground people “on a drip” demand “concrete answers”

The LR mayor of Chalon-sur-Saône, Gilles Platret, in December 2020.

© Jean-Claude Tardivon
The LR mayor of Chalon-sur-Saône, Gilles Platret, in December 2020.

Tuesday the fairgrounds met in Chalon to prepare for one of the most important festivals in the region which is to be held from March 5 to 14. The sector, at a standstill since the start of the pandemic, is counting on the signing of a municipal decree in favor of the maintenance of the funfair by the mayor of Chalon, Gilles Platret, to resume their activity. And this, despite the appeal before the administrative court of Dijon brought by the prefect of Saône-et-Loire. “The city of Chalon estimated that sanitary conditions are now met and that is why, this Monday morning, Gilles Platret signed a decree authorizing the funfair from March 5 to 14”, the town hall said in a statement on Monday. The councilor justified himself by adding that “The authorization order is based on two additional needs: that of fighting against the epidemic crisis by appropriate measures that the fairgrounds are quite willing to take, but also the need to fight against the serious psychological crisis which is the consequence both of the epidemic crisis and of the measures restricting the freedoms which accompanied it. “

Lack of long-term vision and consideration

“It may be an arm wrestling but it is not a whim, this decision was carefully considered not to put people in danger, otherwise we would not have done it and we would have canceled the party like we canceled the carnival “, explains Gilles Platret to Release. The stakes are high for the fairgrounds who have no plans for resuming their profession. “Beyond the organization of the Chalon-sur-Saône festival, this mayor will allow us to bring to light the problems of the fairgrounds”, explains Xavier Saguet, founding member of the Federation of fairgrounds of France, at the origin of the filing of a freedom summary to the Council of State on January 18. “If everyone is at the end of the line today it is because of the lack of concrete responses from the ministries since the 12 October. The President of the Republic told us that we were going to learn to live with this crisis, we are aware of it, this is why we want to establish from the beginning of the strict rules to be applied because for the moment we are on a drip, and for many, the aid is not enough ”, he continues. For Alexis Coquoz, who arrived in Chalon on Tuesday morning to set up his merry-go-round, the Monstermax, it is a way of expressing the distress of the fairgrounds who feel forgotten during the pandemic. “We are fighting for the next holidays, we have already lost three quarters of our turnover from last year so if it starts again we will no longer be able to survive”, he explains.

The lack of long-term vision and consideration for their sector ended up exasperating the fairgrounds. “We have no resumption date for our activity and today with the ban on fairgrounds, we are stigmatized. Some mayors have even decided to remove them from their calendar, so what’s next? That ad vitam æternam there are no more festivals in the municipalities? denounces René Hayoun, president of the Union inter-union des entreprises faines de France and the Association for the defense of fairground rights. We have to do an electroshock so that the government takes us into consideration, that the mayors stop thinking that they have the right of life or death over us and that they understand that we are fully-fledged commercial activities The mayor of Chalon-sur-Saône finally gives us a springboard to prove that we exist.»

“This festival is part of our heritage”

“There is a particular attachment of our city to the fairgrounds, there are the grandsons of those who came before the war who are there and that contributes to the reputation of Chalon. And then this festival is popular, deeply rooted, affects all generations and is also part of our heritage, so we care ”, insists Gilles Platret to justify his decision.

For his part, the prefect of Saône-et-Loire said in a statement to be “Aware of the difficulties encountered by the fairgrounds concerned by the measures restricting their activity” but observed that the“stopped [du maire] appears in contradiction with the decree of 29 October 2020 prescribing measures to deal with the Covid-19 epidemic in the context of the state of health emergency ”. While recalling that the State has already set up a support system intended to help the sector through the health crisis. It remains to be seen whether Gilles Platret, who made fairground citizens honorary citizens and already braved the closing of non-food businesses in his city at the end of October, will once again achieve his ends.

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