Future of festival a tough call

We will soon know whether the Log Cabin Festival will be occurring next month. This morning (Thursday) the board of the Harrisonville Area Chamber of Commerce, the event’s sponsor, was to vote on whether to cancel this year’s event. I have to admit, I have wrestled with how I feel about the festival, maybe as much as the folks who actually have a vote on the issue. I think I am glad I don’t have such a vote.

As someone who is still grappling with the side effects of COVID-19, I really don’t like the idea of risking myself or others to a bout with the disease. The argument can be made that thousands of people gathered in the square area could be a flash point for a rapid spread in the disease. I think that is a concern which has to be taken very seriously.

On the other hand, events are taking place. There is a circus planned in Pleasant Hill. There is a list of concerts planned in Urich. Nationally, we’ve seen big events transpire with no significant impact on COVID numbers. One event I really tried to monitor was the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota. Reportedly there were more than 250,000 people at the event with virtually no social distancing or use of masks. I have yet to read of any mass Coronavirus outbreaks directly or indirectly attributed to the rally. In fact, the numbers seem to be very comparable where quarantines have been kept in place and those which have opened up, the interpretation of those numbers seem to be that of what media outlet is reporting them.

Schools have opened, sports are being played and, of course, we are hearing of COVID cases being reported, but that was actually to be expected because until there is a vaccine or some sort of herd immunity, there are going to continue to be cases.

So, again, I come back to the question of the festival. Is the potential threat really heightened if the city’s celebration is held? Is there a much greater risk of exposure that will come from schools being in session and kids bringing disease home to their family? Are we actually in any more danger than we would be shopping at Walmart or Price Chopper?

On the other side of that coin is the cost a cancellation would bring. The Log Cabin Festival is the major fundraiser for the chamber and for a number of groups in the community. Every one of those food booths run by Rotary Club, Lions Club, Knights of
Columbus, Masons, among others, represent dollars those groups put back into the community.

Turning off that faucet of money could be crippling to their efforts and could squeeze out funds for other projects. Without the festival, the chamber could be broke within the next few months.

At some point in time the fear has got to stop. We have all seen the effects the financial shutdowns have caused on the economy. Businesses have closed and millions of people lost jobs. With limited re-openings, those unemployment numbers are starting to improve and there might be some light at the end of the tunnel. But again, you have to be wary that light is not an oncoming train.

People need a chance to get out and be social again. The Log Cabin Festival is traditionally the city’s annual event which brings together people from all parts of the community and allows for everyone to simply have fun. As I said, it is a source of income for many groups and it also allows the public to browse for goods and services from a variety of local businesses.

The Chamber of Commerce have adopted a number of rules to govern this year’s event, including masks and hand sanitizers. Some events, like the beer garden, have already been eliminated. One would think and hope that if people would follow the rules, these safeguards might be sufficient to minimize the hazards. But would it be enough?

Again, I am glad I am not voting. I am very prejudiced in the fact I have had COVID and I am still facing issues. The disease has to be stopped, but will cancelling the festival really have an impact on the local cases or will it simply cripple the chamber and civic groups in the community? It is a tough call and we will all know by next week.

In the meantime, please, wear a mask.