GREENE COUNTY, Mo. — Many summer traditions around the Ozarks have been changed, postponed or canceled altogether due to COVID-19 concerns.
KOLR 10’s Bailey Strohl spoke with local organizers about what we can still look forward to and what will have to wait until next year.
As we phase into a newer normal this summer, one word stands out when speaking with local organizers: Flexibility.
Amanda Satterlee, president of the Clever Chamber of Commerce said everything is changed this year.
But one thing is almost guaranteed: The Ozark Empire Fair. General Manager Aaron Owen says they are already selling tickets.
But things will be a little different. Owen says you’ll see plenty of places to wash your hands, and reminders if you’re getting a little too close to others.
“We’ve proposed taking temperatures of all the workers, and depending on what their jobs would be, they would be in masks, and a lot more sanitation of rides, but none of that’s been approved,” Owen said. “There will be a lot of markings on the ground you haven’t seen before and we won’t be running our trollies.”
But over in Nixa, President of the Chamber of Commerce Chris Russell says it was a tough decision to cancel Sucker Days.
“The challenge is is that even though most of the state, most of the counties, most of the areas are going to be opened up for as big events as you want to have, there are these three magic words that we want to continue to honor, and that’s safe social distancing,” Russell said. “And to do that event, we would have to water it down so much that we honestly just could not call it Sucker Days, it wouldn’t be Sucker Day’s anymore.”
He says they’ll carry sponsors over until 2021, same with the city’s annual Nixpo event, but it’s still a big economic hit for businesses.
“They missed all that income,” Russell said. “And then you look at all the other vendors we would have had, the food trucks and the money they would have been making. You look at the downtown businesses that we have here in Nixa, that would have been a big impact for them as well. Plus our local businesses, like our restaurants and stuff and throughout Nixa, always have record days.”
Russell says they still have plans to host a smaller, more socially distanced festival in Nixa the same weekend, similar to what Amanda Satterlee is planning in place of an annual festival on June 27 in Clever.
“We didn’t want to cancel it altogether, we didn’t want to push it back,” Satterlee said. “We wanted something now, give something back and lift a few spirits that might need it.”
The festival would typically have music, booths and fun for the community but now Satterlee says they’ve settled on one idea.
“We’ve got a fireworks display that’s going to shoot up higher and brighter than it has ever, so that way you can see it from just about everywhere in town,” Satterlee said.
A socially distanced way to celebrate unity.
“This year we are going to encourage, get out and enjoy this with your neighbors, have driveway parties with your neighborhood, that kind of gives you a bigger sense of community,” Satterlee said.
Gov. Parson also announced this week the State Fair is still planned from Aug. 13 – 23 in Sedalia, although concerts may be canceled.