Republic’s ’Steam-O-Rama’ interrupted for the first time in 59 years as fall festivals cancel over pandemic concerns

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 6:10 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 31, 2020 at 7:18 PM CDT
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REPUBLIC, Mo. (KY3) - While Tom Cruise has “the need for speed”, for 59 years those with the “need for steam” have gathered for Steam-O-Rama, an annual event in Republic that showcases steam-powered engines with vintage trucks and tractors and all kinds of fun from tractor basketball to tractor pulls for the kids.

“The steam engine show itself draws more than eight thousand people,” explained Mike Landis, the city of Republic’s Communications Officer. “These are things people in Republic look forward to every year.

But not this year.

After almost six decades of consecutive shows, the Steam-O-Rama, originally scheduled for mid-September, has been cancelled because of coronavirus concerns.

“It was hard decision to make,” explained Jeff Ruth, a member of the Ozarks Steam Engine Association whose Board of Directors made the call this week. “We really didn’t want to do it. I know we are an outdoor activity but things that would concern us were our tractor pull, our parades and stuff like that that would interfere with social distancing.”

Fall festivals are extremely popular all over the Ozarks. But with large gatherings a major source of COVID-19 spread, it is likely that more of them will be called off.

Freistatt’s Ernte Fest has already been cancelled as has Apple Festivals in Marionville and Seymour.

Besides the Steam-O-Rama, Republic has also had its Fall Festival cancelled. The town’s July 4th celebration that was postponed until September 5th may have to be changed again. The October Pumpkin Daze is still on for now, but all these popular events affect the town both emotionally and economically.

“Emotionally it’s a disappointment for the residents,” Landis said. “They take pride in these events.”

“I think it’s hard for people to grasp because we’re so used to doing it,” Ruth added. “But I think with the reality of everything that’s going on they understand.”

“Economically it’s going to be a disappointment for a lot of businesses,” Landis explained. “We’ve got people coming in from Springfield and surrounding communities and they’re going to be spending money at gas stations and stores so a lot of these businesses depend upon that as well.”

The Ozarks Steam Engine Association depends on the Steam-O-Rama as its main source of income.

“A concern that we had was not being able to raise enough money to keep the show going,” Ruth admitted. “But we’ve got savings and we plan to have our ’21 show and pick up where we left off.”

So if you’d like to mark your calendars now, the 2021 Steam-O-Rama is scheduled for September 16-19.

Assuming things are better then.

Copyright 2020 KY3. All rights reserved.

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