Okawville’s most noted event – the Wheat Festival – has been cancelled for 2020 due to COVID-19. For the first time since 1948, the annual fall event noted for the best floats in the area will not be held.
The Board of Directors of the Okawville Ag Products fair voted to cancel the event scheduled for September 18-20. “This decision was not taken lightly,” said Fair Board President Roy Frederking. “This event is one of the largest in the local area and many people look forward to attending.”
Concern for the health and safety of the fair goers and many valued community volunteers led to the decision to cancel, said Frederking.
Until the state advances to Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois Plan, large crowds are not allowed to gather. Southern Illinois is now in stage 3, limiting the size of a group to 10, with no guarantee when it will advance to 5, with no cap on crowd size.
The decision was made three months before the event, as many committees were gearing up their work, Frederking said. “The Fair does not start on Friday at 5 p.m. and end at 9 p.m. Sunday. Advance work is done all year long.”
“The board did not want to have these people do all their leg work and then we would have to cancel at the last minute,” Frederking said.
A third of the fairs in the state have already canceled for the year, according to the Fair President.