The Coronavirus pandemic has caused the cancellation of yet another annual event in Morgan County.
The Prairie Land Heritage Museum Institute Board of Directors announced today this year’s Steam Show and Fall Festival has been canceled.
The board voted to make the decision during their regular July meeting on Thursday night. Board members cited the decision was hard to make, but in the end they feel it’s the right thing to do.
Prairie Land Heritage Museum Institute President Paula Stucker says that the board had been leaning toward canceling the show during their June meeting, but had decided to send out a survey to the membership before making any final decisions.
“A lot of the members live out of state, so I don’t know particularly how their areas are with the virus. We wanted to see just how many we thought could come in because we have several members who are elderly and had already told us verbally that they would not be there as long as there was the virus out there because they are high risk. So we knew that our workers were really cutting down on what we were going to be able to do.”
Stucker says most important to the board, was the health and safety of everyone involved, and through the course of the survey and continued discussions with both members and vendors, the board felt there would not be enough help or events to put on a show this year.
“We were not going to have old time crafters, we were not going to have ham and beans because it was going to be very hard on us to keep sanitation going for everybody that would be sit down at a table and chairs, and keeping the trays clean.
We just have run out of volunteers to really help, so we finally made that decision last night that we just didn’t think we had enough help, and we were more concerned about people’s health. We figured it was better to skip the show and plan for next year, and hope that we have a lot more people that are able to come out and help, and we are hoping that we can get something going to try to get more membership.”
Stucker says membership has dwindled over the last several years, with many members being elder in age. She says the board is working on ideas of how to attract more members to be involved to ensure the museum and annual steam show can continue for future generations.
Stucker says the concerns over liability issues that all organizations are facing during the pandemic, made the decision to cancel a classic case of better safe than sorry, for many reasons.
“We’re trying the best we can, we just don’t have a lot to go on right now and with no definite answers on this virus, we are stuck between a rock and a hard place like everyone else in the state. We talked to our insurance man and they can’t say for sure that we would be covered if we were sued. It’s just a really difficult time and everybody is the same way. Once they realize, maybe our insurance won’t cover this, they are all doing the same thing like, we have to take a step back and really decide what we want to do.
We would have loved to have had the show. We are just at the point where we just didn’t think it was a good idea, and no show was better than a poor show.”
The Prairie Land Institute’s monthly general meeting will be held as usual at 7:00 pm on Friday July 31st. Stucker says they will discuss ways they can attract more membership at the meeting, and then going forward they will likely switch to meeting every other month for the remainder of the year since there will not be much to discuss with no show this year.
Anyone interested in becoming a member, or donating to the institute, or to ask questions, you can contact the board via the Prairie Land Heritage Museum Facebook page, or call and leave a message at the office at 243-7262. You can also contact the board by mail at PO Box 754 Jacksonville, Illinois, 62650