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Large summer festivals canceled in the Ozarks

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Two large summer festivals in the Ozarks have been called off this year due to coronavirus concerns.

The Birthplace of Route 66 Festival in Springfield and Sucker Days Music, Arts & Crafts Festival in Nixa collectively were slated to bring in tens of thousands of attendees, according to the event organizers.

The annual Birthplace of Route 66 Festival, which this year was projected to bring roughly 75,000 people to downtown Springfield, had been scheduled Aug. 14-15. Last year, the two-day event had 65,000 people in attendance, according to a news release.

“We think this is the right thing to do to protect participants, staff, spectators (who come from all around the world) and our community," said Cora Scott, city of Springfield spokesperson and festival steering committee member, in the release. “We are looking forward to celebrating the Birthplace of Route 66 next year and hope to make the 2021 festival the best one yet.”

The Route 66 Festival includes car and motorcycle shows, concerts and vendors.

Susan Wade, public relations manager for the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, said an economic impact estimate for the festival is difficult to make "without specifics on overnight travel and incremental expenditures generated by the event."

The smaller Sucker Days in Nixa was estimated to draw an attendance of 15,000-25,000 people this year, said Chris Russell, president and CEO of the Nixa Area Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the event. Sucker Days is the chamber's biggest annual event.

The 63rd annual Sucker Days event previously was postponed to Aug. 7-8 from May 15-16. The event was rebooted in 2019 with additional elements, according to a news release.

"The 2019 event lined the streets of downtown Nixa with tens of thousands of happy people,” Russell said in a news release. We would have to eliminate many of the new elements to provide a safe social distancing environment, and by doing so, it would not be Sucker Days."

The Nixa chamber is considering hosting a separate event later this summer that would allow for social distancing, according to the release.

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