In a decision last week, the Boonville Chamber of Commerce board elected to cancel Heritage Days for 2020. There were just too many unknowns, chamber Director Karen Esser said.

The four-day festival normally attracts 2,000 visitors to Boonville. It originally was scheduled June 24-28, and while the board did talk about rescheduling to August or September, that comes up against other festivals and sporting events, Esser said.

“We could have continued to put things together and still end up having to cancel,” she said. “It just becomes an issue of not finding a place to put it. You have people that go to Mizzou football games and then we will have kids playing here in various sports.

The board talked about trimming the scale of the festival.

“We literally covered just about every base that you could think of to try and figure out something and it just didn’t look like it was something that we could do,” Esser said.

Social distancing was a prime concern. The festival typically has a parade with between 80-120 participants and approximately 80 craft booths.

“We can space the booths but you can’t space the people that are coming to the festival,” Esser said. “And then there’s the fear that there are still some hot spots in the area, Saline County in particular.”

Public safety was the biggest concern.

“If anyone had gotten ill and it was traced back to the festival, that would be just something that would be hard to live with,” Esser said.

Vendors and sponsors have been notified of the cancellation either through e-mail or by phone. All vendors also have had their checks returned, she said.


There may be some good news for the Fourth of July celebration. The Chamber is working on the possibility of having a fireworks display but nothing has been finalized yet.

“We are still working on the details,” Esser said.

As for the rest of the summer and fall activities, Esser said it just depends. The Chamber usually holds the fall progressive dinner but whether or not they can still hold it is up in the air.

The Missouri River Festival in the fall also draws a lot of people to town. No decision has been made on the 2020 Missouri River Festival.

Already canceled events include The Big Muddy Folk Festival and the Cooper County Youth Fair.

The Big Muddy Folk Festival is held in April. The two day, nationally-recognized folk festival focuses on traditional, ethnic and folk music with concerts, workshops, jam sessions, demonstrations, master classes, exhibits, a dance and barbecue.

The 29th Annual Big Muddy Folk Festival will be held April 9-10, 2021 at Thespian Hall in Boonville. Nightly performances start at 7 p.m. Performers in 2021 include Artemisia, Charm City Junction, Leela and Ellie Grace and David Grimes.

The Cooper County Youth Fair board sent out a release May 8 about the decision to cancel due to COVID-19 concerns.

The board will continue to consider other ways people can safely showcase projects and livestock this year, according to a Facebook post. They are seeking input from club leaders and parents.

The Youth Fair is held each year in July.

Since 2021 is the Missouri Bicentennial, the Heritage Days committee will start meeting in September to plan, Esser said.

“2020 is pretty much a write off,” she said. “We’ll go hard next year and have something very important to celebrate. The only thing we have left is Christmas in Historic Boonville.”