KIMMSWICK, Mo. – Flooding has forced the cancellation of Kimmswick’s big festival but residents there want others to know that it’s very safe to visit.
The annual Strawberry Festival was canceled because there would only be one road in and out of town to serve 50,000 visitors. Still the owners of shops and restaurants are ready for smaller crowds this weekend.
“My job is to watch out for the safety of the people and the property of Kimmswick, so I’m not going to let anything happen to them,” said Kimmswick Mayor Phil Steng.
Inmates from the Bonne Terre prison volunteered to strengthen and raise the new levee. Mayor Stang said folks have been working on the flood wall since April. The wall is already three feet higher than the projected Mississippi River crest of 46 feet next week and they’re in the process of adding three feet more.
“We’ve never let water in this city and we're not gonna,” Mayor Stang said.
The city budget receives 20 to 25 percent of its income from the Strawberry Festival. Shop owners want folks to know, if you love Kimmswick, you’ll love it even more now. They were more than ready for the now-canceled festival.
“We are open for business. Everybody’s got lots of stuff that we ordered in for the Strawberry Festival so we need people. Now’s the time to shop. If you’re truly a shopper come to Kimmswick,” said Chris Bean, owner of a gift shop.
At The Blue Owl restaurant, they have all sorts of strawberry desserts prepared for diners. There’s no doubt in the owner’s mind the town is safe for visitors.
“I can tell you now it’s very safe. If it wasn’t, we would not be here. I would not have my staff here. The mayor wouldn’t let anyone into town,” said Mary Hosteter, owner of The Blue Owl.