SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — While many are enjoying the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival downtown, one small business is frustrated.
With road construction, limited parking, and a large stage for music, Eleanor Taylor, the owner of Prairie Pie, says sales are way down this weekend.
Behind the stage at the festival, there are tables and chairs set up to encourage festivalgoers to visit those businesses. However, many of the chairs were empty and Taylor said, she was not happy.
“We’ve had road blockages for a very long time, five months, and now with the Route 66 festival, the roads are completely blocked to my business,” Taylor said. “And so instead of five months of partial blockage, we’re capping it off with full blockage of the roads and we’re actually behind the stage.”
Eleanor Taylor said the outdoor tables were a compromise after she asked the city and the Downtown Springfield Association for a free vendor booth at the festival, but it’s not helping.
“I have been in contact with them this week about guiding people to their back lot, as they’ve named it, which is these tables out in the road in front of us,” Taylor said. “The signage directing people to walk behind the stage is also behind the stage. And so if you’re staring at the stage, you have no idea we’re here.”
Taylor tells me on a Friday afternoon there would normally be plenty of people enjoying pie and coffee, but today she was met with empty tables.
“It has been a challenging summer. The road construction, I think, lasted longer and had more impact than was originally intended,” said Rusty Worley, the executive director at the Downtown Springfield association. “So, it has been something that we’ve been trying to actively encourage folks in spite of the construction, to still support our businesses down here.”
Along with construction, big events like the festival can bring challenges too.
“For the festival, we have coupons in the bags for all the car show participants with coupons encouraging them to support several downtown businesses throughout the weekend. And the festival, we’re absorbing that cost,” said Worley. “So there’s several things that we’re trying to do, but we recognize it’s a lot to put on small business having all of this happen.”
Prairie Pie tells me they are looking forward to the festival and construction being finished.
The last day of the festival is Saturday and the downtown Springfield Association says construction should be finished in the next couple of weeks.