In Missouri, fall is a time for families to enjoy the great outdoors. The air is crisp and refreshing, and many of us look forward to enjoying fall festivals.
The festivals are based on American tradition, Irish heritage, and celebrations of the season such as pumpkins and apples. They're filled with a wide variety of food, entertainment and, of course, people.
That's the problem this year. With the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of people in close proximity are exactly what we don't want right now.
So, like many summer fairs, the state fairs, one by one, are falling victim to the pandemic. The Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival, Versailles Old Tyme Apple Festival, Cole County Extension Center Fall Festival, Eldon Turkey Festival, Ozark Ham and Turkey Festival, and Kansas City Irish Festival are among those that have called off their 2020 fall festivals.
California's Ozark Ham and Turkey Festival canceled its traditional two-day event in favor of a smaller one-day event.
Many of these festivals have run annually, without interruption, for years, even decades.
The Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival started in 1991, and the 108 city residents host some 40,000 people each year in their quaint river town. The festival would have run yearly, without exception, until now had it not been for the Flood of '93.
Many of the festival organizers made similar statements: They're disappointed and it was a tough decision, but it was the best decision for the community.
Festivals are tradition celebrations for us. We tow our children in red wagons and seek out the latest deep-fried delights. We create lasting memories with our families and friends.
We're not happy about their cancellations. But it's the right thing to do.
Under these conditions, with COVID-19 numbers running several times higher than just a few months ago, the events would be guaranteed "superspreader" events.
So we'll continue our gardening, our family games of Monopoly, our walks in the evening. And we'll look forward to a better 2021.