Cape not necessarily a college town

Friday, August 3, 2012

I hear it said all summer.

"Cape is so slow right now because it's a college town. It will get better once school starts back up."

It's something I've noticed from time to time, too. When the Southeast Missouri State University students leave Cape Girardeau for their respective hometowns, the city can seemingly start to feel bogged down in summer sludge. Downtown isn't as crowded from weekend to weekend. There are fewer bands playing out. And weeknight event schedules slow down considerably.

However, do these things mean Cape Girardeau is a college town?

Wikipedia defines a college town as a "community which is dominated by its university population." The website also notes that certain cities are named college towns because the presence of the educational institution pervades economic and social life, with many businesses catering primarily to the university.

Even though Cape Girardeau often fits this description, I would hesitate to place it in the college town category straight away.

Bars and other entertainment venues do get less crowded when students are gone, but that doesn't mean local entertainment dries up. The summer season moves many event options outside, with festivals like Jackson Homecomers and the Bloom Heavy River Romp becoming more attractive to people over indoor and late night options.

And don't forget the younger children. Some of your weekend (and weeknight) warriors simply don't have the time to get out around family vacations, visiting family and bonding with their children.

So, while I realize that the college students are getting ready to return and spread their collective party all over town, I don't believe Cape Girardeau has become a Lawrence, Kansas (home of Kansas University) or Fayetteville, Arkansas (University of Arkansas).

Not yet, anyway.

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