Summer Camp Music Festival crowds do not impact local economy, say business owners

Local News

CHILLICOTHE, Ill. (WMBD) — For several days every year, the small town of Chillicothe welcomes thousands of people for the Summer Camp Music Festival at Three Sisters Park.

Jacob Lukehart lives steps from the park, and said the neighbors always get in on the fun.

“Usually everybody gets up, gets out, [and] you see everybody throwing their tie-dye shirts on,” he said.

But for some residents, it’s a signal to get out of town.

“They just don’t want to deal with the crowds in the stores, the crowds everywhere, that they will plan a vacation at that time,” said local resident Sue Morrissey.

Some nearby business owners said while the festival brings people to town, it doesn’t translate to business dollars.

“You would think 15-20,000 people coming into a town of 6,000, all the businesses would go crazy, but once you park in there I don’t think any of the cars move,” said Harreld Webster, owner and chief baker at Triple Dipple’s.

“We don’t get a whole lot of them, but the ones we do get, they are always so polite when they come,” said Jennifer Wages, manager at La Gondola Spaghetti House.

Some shops will close altogether during the festival, the pandemic notwithstanding.

“Even prior to COVID, there were businesses that shut down. There were people who left town [because they] didn’t want to be a part of the mayhem,” Webster said.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the Summer Music Camp Festival. The event goes through Sunday, Aug. 22.

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