The organizers behind the annual Moonshine Festival and Car Show in Oak Park opted last week to cancel this year’s festivities, citing COVID precautions as the reason for the decision.
For the past 10 years, the Oak Park Shiners have brought fun and fellowship to the southern part of the county. In light of the pandemic, event leaders regularly communicated with local government agencies about what, if any, options existed to keep plans on for the happenings scheduled for September 18.
After careful consideration, however, the Shiners announced the cancellation on Wednesday, September 1.
“Though we regret this course of action, the health and safety of our sponsors, vendors, festival attendees, volunteers, performers, and our local community members who make our festival what it is year after year have always and will continue to be our highest priority,” read a statement penned on behalf of the group.
Dana Strange, who works on the car show side of the festival, called this a “tough decision” for all on the committee.
“This year’s Oak Park Moonshine Festival and Car Show was shaping up to have 200+ vehicles. We are a small group of volunteers that work very hard every year to provide an enjoyable event not only for our town but for folks from all around. It’s in the best interest of our town and our participants to cancel and reschedule for [next year]. If anyone wishes to volunteer to help us, please do so.”
Lisa Barwick Turbyfill, overseer of vendor connections, chimed in as well, echoing the sentiment that the decision was made with good intention.
“I am over the vendors that come to our festival. I try my best to keep in keep in touch with them and make the best decision that I can. Cancelling the festival was a hard decision for all of us volunteers to make. We had an extensive collection about it. Honestly, we didn’t want to cancel it. We felt that with the elderly people in our community that we all care about and the young ones, this was a decision we made for us, our community, the vendors, and patrons because we care about their health and well-being. I promise you all, the decision wasn’t made easily. Football games and other events haven’t been canceled, but we felt this was best for us. Thank you all for your support and understanding.”
Mickey Lindsey, mayor of Oak Park, commended the group’s decision and was glad to see the Shiners make the call on their own as opposed to city government having to get involved.
“I for one am proud [the Shiners] stepped up and did this before it was put before the council. We had the festival last year against the wishes of some of the people, and not one case of covid was reported from it,” he said. “This is an outdoor event and every precaution was taken by the Oak Park Shiners last year, and I know they would have taken every precaution to keep people safe… Still, I think they made the right decision to not have a festival this year. I would like to personally thank each and every one of people involved for all the hard work they put into making the festival a success every year.”
He continued, “I hope everyone who has had questions about whether or not the Moonshine Festival would go on sees this. This was a wait-and-see project. A date had been set to decide whether to have the festival or not, and this is what the Moonshine Festival Committee decided to do.”
While last week’s decision was a difficult one, the Shiners remain hopeful for the Oak Park Moonshine Festival to pick up next fall where it leaves off in 2021. The tentative date for the 2022 festivities is September 17.