As Springfield's Road to Recovery plan comes closer to fruition, the city's largest annual event is returning with an expected boom in attendance.
More than 80,000 people are expected to attend the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival in August, according to a video announcement and news release issued on Thursday. That would make it the largest regional festival of its kind in the Midwest, an official said in the video.
The festival this year is scheduled Aug. 13-14, "barring any major negative developments in local COVID-19 case counts and assuming significant continued vaccination progress," according to the release.
The festival in 2020, then expected to draw 75,000 attendees, became a victim of the coronavirus pandemic that forced its cancellation last summer. Attendance at the 2019 event was 65,000, according to past reporting.
This year, the downtown event will include a classic car show, charity bike event, a parade and musical guests such as Machine Gun Symphony and Sixwire. The event pays homage to Springfield's historical ties to the Mother Road.
The city's Road to Recovery plan is slated to remove coronavirus restrictions when thresholds of less than 20 new cases per day, under 20 hospitalizations in COVID-19 isolation and a vaccination rate of 50% of the eligible population are met.
The Springfield-Greene County Health Department's COVID-19 dashboard shows 32.1% of the eligible local population has been fully vaccinated. There are 37 patients in Greene County hospitals, and the seven-day average of new cases is 21.4, according to the data.
When Springfield Business Journal last pulled Health Department data on April 21, the seven-day average for daily cases was 17, hospitalizations were at 26 and nearly 29% of eligible residents were fully vaccinated.
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