Local businesses are gearing up for an influx of traffic and customers before next week’s Heritage Days festival.

“It’s our busiest weekend by far,” said Ethel Howard, general manager of Maggie’s Bar and Grill.

Howard starts preparing for the festival weeks in advance by scheduling extra employees, ordering extra ingredients and planning unique menu offerings.

“We’ll over-staff, over-stock and get specials together,” she said. “We absolutely plan for it.”

This year’s Heritage Days festival will run from June 20-24. The event, which is organized by the Boonville Chamber of Commerce, celebrates the town’s birthday every year. This is the 29th year that the multi-day festival will run. Downtown Boonville will host a carnival, live music, a beer garden, arts and crafts booths and food vendors. Festivities begin on Wednesday night with the “Little Mr. and Little Miss” children’s pageant and wraps up Sunday afternoon with an old-fashioned baseball game.

On Main Street, Abby Williams is getting her store, Sweet Pea Sundries, ready by organizing extra items.

“We don’t get the same increase in traffic that the restaurants do, but we definitely do see more people come in,” Williams said.

Williams, who has owned the store for eight years, always increases her stock a little bit and plans to work hard during the festival.

Laura Wax, executive director of the Boonville Chamber of Commerce, estimated that several thousand people attended the festival last year.

“It’s hard to give an exact number, but we know that people spend thousands of dollars and absolutely have a positive economic impact on the community,” Wax said.

This year, the Boonville High School alumni association is adding to this number. More than 100 of the school’s alumni have already signed up for a reunion June 23 at the Isle of Capri casino.

Wax and the Chamber of Commerce have been preparing for this year’s Heritage Days since August, a little bit more than a month after the previous year’s festivities wrapped up.

“There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into this,” Wax said. “We’re hoping that people take a step back and remember what they love about Boonville.”

ccolby@boonvilledailynews.com