Events return to their pre-pandemic glory
It’s been more than a year since we’ve had a proper event season, and this year is roaring back with more anticipation than ever. Organizers across Southeast Missouri are planning the return of their summer events after COVID-19 restrictions forced many to cancel last year.
“We are headed towards a strong recovery and in front of many new audiences than in years past,” said Brenda Newbern, executive director of Visit Cape.
After a year and a half cooped up at home, the pent up excitement for the return of festivals, celebrations, sporting events, and other group pastime activities is at an all time high. Organizers pointed again and again to the growing excitement and demand to illustrate their certainty of a successful summer and fall events season.
Although some may look different than years prior, most are doing their best to bring back everyone’s favorite events and continue to rebuild the community both economically and culturally.
Cape Riverfront Farmers Market
Director of Old Town Cape, Liz Haynes, adapted and found creative ways to remain open throughout the pandemic, but is excited about a return to normalcy.
“When the supermarket shelves were bare, we were able to provide food for the community, support the livelihood of the market vendors, and drive the local economy.”
Initially switching to a drive-thru format at the Century Casino parking lot, soon moving back to Spanish Street with social distancing protocols, and now back to operating normally, Haynes shared she is excited to finally fully reopen.
Although there were many challenges, it did come with a silver lining. To enforce social distancing during the pandemic, part of Spanish Street was closed to accommodate the market. As a result of overwhelming positive feedback, they have decided to maintain this change. Haynes shared, “We discovered that it is more of a festival feel having the street closed and that people love it. We plan to keep this piece moving forward.”
Since fully reopening, the Farmers Market has experienced overwhelming enthusiasm. They received a record number of community members applying to vend resulting in a huge influx of new vendors this year. In addition, they have experienced record numbers of attendees at the market.
“Our mission is to continue to strive, live, work and play, and a lot of that is centered around community building. That sense of place, that charm, those friendly folks is really what makes our community special.”
The Farmers Market is open 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday between May and October. 35 S. Spanish St, Cape Girardeau. Free.
Following a virtual presentation last year, the Semoball Awards will host its annual event recognizing local high school athletes from 56 area high schools in-person this summer. Lucas Presson, assistant publisher of the Southeast Missourian, shared that they are thrilled to host an in-person event this year and celebrate the many dedicated athletes across Southeast Missouri.
Although in-person, this year’s celebration will come with some changes. It will be tailgate style and held at the Rock ‘N’ Roll Drive-In. “We are excited about it! This allows us to have 900+ people in the area safely with a max of 250 cars and three to four people per car.”
This year, they will also be able to celebrate athletes in all 19 categories including everything from Scholar Athlete of the Year to Coach of the Year. The primary mission of the event is to have the opportunity to focus and uplift the many athletes who have worked hard and dedicated themselves to athletics.
“These are athletes who are used to competing against each other, but a lot of the time they do not have a chance to interact outside of competition. There is a friendship formed between these athletes and a mutual respect for their athletic performance.”
In addition to the main event, there will be additional interactive experiences. This includes food trucks, live music, games, and a red carpet for the athletes attending. After the main awards show, the drive-in will be hosting a sports-themed film for those who would like to stay longer.
The event is expected to sell out quickly. Those wanting to attend can purchase tickets online per car via the Semoball website semoball.com/awards. The event will also be streamed live via the Semoball.com Facebook page.
July 10, 2021. Rock N’ Roll Drive-In Theatre. 272 Drive-In Lane Chaffee.
Shipyard Music Festival
After a one-year hiatus, Shipyard Music Festival organizers are excited to announce they are moving forward with their highly anticipated outdoor music festival scheduled for mid-September.
The lineup will include a diverse, multi-genre array of musicians. Everything from Americana to Roots and Bluegrass to Pop.
“This project is a labor of love,” said Jeff Rawson, Shipyard organizer and general manager of rustmedia. “It’s an opportunity to bring something unique to the area while exploring new and comfortable sounds that a lot of people are listening to.”
Like many upcoming festivals, this year comes with some changes. They will be taking over the Century Casino property in order to accommodate larger venues and have space for attendees to spread out. A second stage has been added with a focus on highlighting local and regional musicians in-between main stage acts.
“Many of the artists that performed at Shipyard previously shared that they love Cape and mentioned how well they were treated here. A lot of them called back asking to play again.”
Shipyard will be full of unique experiences. Red Banner Coffee Roasters will be making on-site coffee via a refurbished shipping container, Saint Francis Healthcare will have an environmentally-friendly water filtration system for attendees to fill-up water bottles, and the Reynolds House will be available for VIP members to experience a relaxation space with wine tasting.
This year, the elation for the festival to return seems to be at an all time high. Rawson shared they have been receiving messages from community members with anticipation for the upcoming festival.
Tickets are available via their website shipyardfest.com and will be available at the door day of the event.
September 17-18. The Grounds at Century Casino. 777 Main Street, Cape Girardeau.
Brenda Newbern, executive director of Visit Cape, shared the recovery of the event ecosystem is happening faster than expected.
“We are very happy to see that events are reopening. Starting in April, we had the Muddy River Marathon and it all kept building from there.”
Cape will be hosting the Westerns Swing Showcase, Living History Celebrations, the Great Race, the American Legion Conference, the beginning and end of the Secrets of the Ozarks, multiple King Cat Competitions and so much more.
All of the events scheduled for this summer through the end of the year have a direct impact on the economic and cultural viability of Cape. Newbern shared, “There are four things these events are doing: increasing our standard of living, preserving our culture, creating infrastructure, and positively affecting our bottom line.”
Although there may be some overarching changes such as hand washing stations and additional precautions to keep all community members safe, the rush of events planned from now until the end of the year are a welcome change to the year prior.
“We want to stop being that fly over state,” she said. “We want people to know they can fly in here. The pandemic showed that we are a diverse community that can offer a variety of activities.”
Visit Cape provides an expansive events calendar via its website visitcape.com.
After making the difficult decision to cancel last year’s celebrations due to the pandemic, Jackson Homecomers will return this coming July.
“We have been here since 1907 and are a longstanding tradition in the community,” shared organizer Larry Koehler.
This year features a number of different nightly activities spread throughout the week. This includes the mayor’s opening remarks, Gospel Night, an interactive murder mystery, live music, carnival rides and more.
Changes for this year are minimal. Koehler shared they are waiting to see what the CDC guidelines permit and will have hand sanitizer at each ride, but are trusting the community to do what’s right.
The enthusiasm to maintain this longstanding celebration has been growing throughout the county. Koehler shared, “We feel that people are extra excited this year. The American Legion will be sponsoring the event, and we feel like people are ready to get out and get the celebration up and running again.”
July 27-31. 1 Barton Square, Jackson. Free.
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