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Even though stay-at-home orders that were in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 have been lifted, many organizations have canceled annual festivals and other events that had been scheduled in Jefferson County and the surrounding area over the next few months.

Organizers said concerns about how to hold large gatherings while following social-distancing guidelines to limit the spread of the virus contributed to decisions to cancel the events. Organizers also said it would be difficult to secure sponsorships and other funding for the events since many businesses are struggling because of the pandemic.

In addition, they said it would be hard to predict whether events would draw participants since many may be worried about attending large gatherings.

The following provides the latest updates about events held regularly in the area:

Hillsboro Homecoming

The Hillsboro Homecoming and Festival and other associated activities that had been scheduled for last weekend were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mandy Alley, administrator for the Greater Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the annual event, said it was a hard decision to cancel the festival, which is the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year.

“Having to cancel this event is going to put a great strain on our chamber of commerce. We are uncertain just how hard of an impact this will have on the future of the chamber, but we are hopeful we can find a way to bounce back from this,” Alley said in a post on the chamber’s Facebook page when the cancellation was announced.

“We considered postponing the festival for a later date this year. But with so many questions about the timeline for the COVID-19 crisis, that is not feasible at the moment”

While it was difficult to cancel the festival, it would have been even harder to ask struggling businesses for donations and sponsorships to fund the event, Alley said.

“During this public health crisis, when our entire community is under such an intense strain, it does not feel feasible, or even conscionable, to request such commitments,” she said.

Also, it would be difficult to maintain social distancing at the event, Alley said.

“This was one of the hardest decisions the chamber and the board have had to make in a very long time. Knowing the history and tradition behind the festival, I can assure you this decision was not made lightly or without extensive conversation amongst the board. However, the health and safety of the community is much more important to us,” she said.

Other Hillsboro events

Alley said the chamber also is involved in the Jefferson County Dress Swap held each year at Hillsboro High School, as well as the Hillsboro Horse Show and Fall Festival, which is scheduled for Oct. 3, and decisions have not yet been made about whether those events will go on.

The annual Jefferson County Rodeo, which is held at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Hillsboro each year, was scheduled for June 5-June 6, and it has been postponed, although a new date has not yet been set, said Kelly Fortel, office manager for the club.

She said Monday that decisions had not yet been made about whether to call off the civic club’s annual Fourth of July celebration or the Jefferson County Fair, which is set for July 23-July 26.

Kimmswick Strawberry Festival

For the second straight year, Kimmswick has canceled the 2020 Strawberry Festival, this year because of the coronavirus and last year because of flooding.

This year’s festival was scheduled for June 6-7.

“We did not want to put any of the public at risk,” Ward 1 Alderwoman and festival director Connie Schmitt said. “We also didn’t want to wait until the last minute for our vendors, so that if there is another show somewhere, they can go to that.

“This is going to hurt us big time. It is two of them in a row. It is going to be hard to come back from that. We will try next year again.”

The Strawberry Festival, along with the city’s annual Apple Butter Festival, which is scheduled for Oct. 26 and 27, make up 80 percent of the town’s budget, Schmitt said.

The Strawberry Festival typically raises $30,000 to $40,000 for the city each year, Schmitt said.

Twin City Firecracker Extravaganza

All city-sponsored or sanctioned events in Festus have been canceled through the end of June, including the popular Twin City Firecracker Extravaganza that Festus and Crystal City had planned to hold June 26-27 at West City Park. Decisions have not yet been made about any city events scheduled after June, Festus City Administrator Greg Camp said.

“This includes events like the Blues Funk Festival (in August) and the Mayor’s Fall Cruise (in September),” Camp said.

A pickleball tournament normally held in conjunction with the Twin City Firecracker Extravaganza also has been canceled.

When the tournament returns, it will have a new name – the Larry Crites Memorial Twin City Firecracker Extravaganza Pickleball Tournament. The tourney was renamed in honor of Crites, the longtime superintendent of Festus Parks, who died April 30 of a cardiac episode. 

Jim Berger, the region’s leading pickleball booster said Crites deserves the honor.

Berger said Crites was an early supporter of pickleball in town, allowing pickleball supporters to rededicate the old skateboard area in Jokerst Memorial Park to the game, and the park quickly drew hordes of pickleball players from near and far.

The Firecracker Extravaganza Pickleball Tournament has been popular since it started, drawing 200 or more people each year, Berger said.

Crites’ family appreciates the gesture, said Laura Dutton, one of his children.

“The Firecracker Extravaganza was always something our family looked forward to,” she said. “The pickleball tournament being renamed after him is a great honor, and we can’t be more proud.”

Arnold Fourth of July celebration

The city of Arnold will not hold an Independence Day fireworks show for the second straight year.

City Administrator Bryan Richison said this year’s event, which was scheduled for June 27, at Arnold City Park was canceled because of concerns about COVID-19.

“We have to (book) vendors and musical acts, and it is really hard to do that when we don’t know what the situation will be like in July,” Richison said. “Our feeling was the safest thing to do was to cancel the event, given the situation.”

The city canceled last year’s fireworks display because of flooding in the park.

Richison said Arnold pays Gateway Fireworks of St. Louis about $25,000 for each show, and the city receives credit from the company when a show is canceled. That means the city would not be charged for its next fireworks display.

In 2019, Gateway Fireworks put on two shows during Arnold Days in September to make up for the Fourth of July display that was canceled.

Richison said Arnold Days, which is scheduled for Sept. 18-20 at Arnold City Park, may be affected by the coronavirus, and a decision about the event likely will be made in early August.

“A lot of it will depend on the situation and what orders are in place,” Richison said. “Right now, I don’t know how you have it with social distancing. I think we will wait as long as we can on that (decision) to make sure we know what the situation is that we are dealing with.”

De Soto Fourth of July

Officials with the De Soto Chamber of Commerce have adopted a “wait and see” attitude about their portion of the city’s annual Independence Day celebration.

“We haven’t canceled the parade; we’re waiting another few weeks,” chamber office coordinator

Sarah Greenlee said. “It will depend on what City Hall thinks, and what the Health Department recommends.”

The annual fireworks display, sponsored by the Lions Club, has been canceled.

Like many organizations, the chamber is struggling with budget shortfalls because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The annual De Soto Home Show, slated for April 4, was canceled, as was the chamber’s annual golf tournament.

“Events take a lot of planning, months of it, and a lot of fundraising,” Greenlee said. “A lot of fundraising events have been canceled, and that affects the budget. I know it has for ours. I’m assuming it’s the same way for everybody else.”

De Soto chamber members still hope to hold its annual Fall Festival.

“As of right now, we are going to try to have it Sept. 19,” Greenlee said. “We’ve got to try it – otherwise we have no income here.”

She said the sprawling space for vendors and exhibits on Main Street has been a bit problematic in the past.

“But this year, it’s going to work in our favor,” she said. “We have unlimited space, because we can go all the way up and down Main Street. Vendors will be spread out, and we’ll have hand hygiene stations. Safety will be the main concern.

“But who knows what might happen between now and then? Things change, and they change often. We’re just taking it day by day.”

Herculaneum Fourth of July

The city of Herculaneum won’t hold an Independence Day celebration either.

Herculaneum City Administrator Jim Kasten said planning for the city’s July 4 celebration never got off the ground.

“We were talking with the Herculaneum Amvets earlier in the year about doing something, and then the pandemic came around, and those talks just stopped,” he said. “We’ll save our money and do something next year.”

Twin City Days

The 2020 Twin City Days festival scheduled for Sept. 10-12 also has been canceled, Twin City Area Chamber of Commerce officials have announced.

“We thought it was the right thing to do,” said Tonda Breeze, the chamber’s executive director. “Twin City Days is put on through the sponsorships from the businesses, and we didn’t want to put any additional burdens on them.”

She said many of the businesses in Crystal City and Festus are struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not only would it be difficult to fund the event, but the “logistics” of holding a large festival when health guidelines call for social distancing also played a part in the decision to cancel, Breeze said.

She said the chamber intends to bring back Twin City Days in 2021.

“Absolutely, it’s just a one-year thing,” she said. “Dr. Zhivegas, the band that was supposed to be our featured band at this year’s Twin City Days, has agreed to perform at the 2021 Twin City Days.”

Breeze said Twin City Days has been successful over the years bringing large crowds of people to the area, so the decision to cancel the 2020 event was difficult.

“It’s unfortunate because it’s a trickle-down effect,” she said. “It affects so many businesses.”

Cedar Hill Community Days

Cedar Hill Community Days is still on for Sept. 12, said Thelma Dunn, the president of Cedar Hill Firefighters Auxiliary, which sponsors the event.

“We are hoping by that time things are back under control,” Dunn said. “We are moving forward like it’s going to happen.”

Plans for the event call for fireworks, live music, food and merchandise vendors.

Fenton Days

Fenton Days will not be held this year, chairman Thad James said. The event typically is held the first Saturday of October.

James said organizers hope to hold the event in 2021, and the decision to cancel this year had more to do with securing sponsors then the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We figured the opening up of the world would possibly be OK by October; we just won’t have time to get sponsors for the event,” he said.  

Byrnes Mill Fall Festival

Whether the Byrnes Mill Fall Festival, which normally is held the first Saturday of October, will be held this year is up in the air, depending on health conditions at the time, City Administrator Debbie LaVenture said.

She said the event has not officially been postponed or canceled, but no plans to have the event have been made either.

LaVenture said city officials will make a decision closer to the date when the event is scheduled.

Pevely

Ashton Lowery, Pevely’s city clerk, said the city has no events scheduled for the immediate future.

Typically, the city hosts a Movie Night in July, Pevely Days in August and a Trunk or Treat event in October, and all those are up in the air.

“We have not been able to have a Park Board meeting because of the social distancing,” she said. “Nothing has been canceled, but it has not been discussed yet.”

Ste. Genevieve

Ste. Genevieve has announced numerous cancellations as well as rescheduled events. The following events have been canceled: Friday Art Walk (May 22), the remaining May dates for the Farmers Market (held on Saturdays), the remaining May dates for the Living History Saturdays, French Heritage Festival (June 13), La Veille (June 13) and Summer Music Series concert (June 12). The city is revising plans for its Fourth of July celebration.

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