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'We all want the water back': Wilkinson County to raise money to rebuild dam, refill Lake Tchukolako

May 1 marks one year since the dam broke, which is why they're hosting a huge festival on the shores of what was Lake Tchukolako.

Some lakefront owners in Wilkinson County have been fundraising for eight months to restore their lake.

Last year, Lake Tchukolako was a sparkling body of water.

On May 1, 2020, the dam breaching causing water to pour out from the lake.

Lakefront owner Leigh Scott vividly remembers the next day.

"When I got up the next morning and I go out and the water was not even at the end of my dock, that's how much water disappeared overnight," said Scott.

What once was filled with wildlife is now nothing but grass.

Scott also said, "We all want the water back -- that's the bottom line, and the only way we can do that is to work together, just the love of seeing the lake and hearing the sounds."

That's why Shana Rogers started fundraising to rebuild the dam and refill the lake.

Rogers said, "My initial ones were raffles and T-shirt sales, and just easy ways people could contribute when they could."

Rogers initial efforts inspired the dam team, including Scott and Joan Selby.

"I really want to work as hard as I can, in a good way, to get the lake back and raise money," said Rogers. "My heart is in this lake. My heart is in this community."

For the past eight months, people in Wilkinson County have raised $60,000 by themselves, doing everything from fish fries to raffles to bake sales.

May 1 marks one year since the dam broke, which is why they're hosting a huge festival on the shores of what was Lake Tchukolako.

Scott also said, "You know, the whole nine yards that you would normally see at a festival. We have vendors that cover just about everything as far as food and arts and crafts."

It happens Saturday at the Ivey Beach House from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and it'll cost $5 for everyone 10 years old and up.