After skipping a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Farmington Country Days is returning to the downtown area this weekend with the theme “Country Days, Carnival Nights Re-Boot 2021.”
The Friday through Sunday event, one of the largest and most popular events in the Parkland, is introducing a number of changes that its sponsor, the Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce, believes will make the event fun and safe for people of all ages.
"As we've planned the return of Country Days, we've received great feedback from people," said Candy Hente, chamber executive director. "We were a little nervous — we're making a lot of changes, and as you know, that has its plusses and minuses in the opinions of people. But Country Days 2021 is about all things local, so we'll be having all local bands and we're extending the festival all the way up to the Jefferson Street Plaza from Long Park.
"We will have three stages throughout the festival — one at the Jefferson Street area, a second one at the First State Community Bank's parking lot next to Krekeler's Jewelers, and a third at the gazebo in Long Park.
"Long Park will be centered more as a family and children's area. There will be the SERVPRO bounce house, face painting, balloons, and again, music on all three stages throughout the festival which will run Friday afternoon and evening and then all day Saturday.
"The festival will close at 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday evening. Sunday will strictly be the carnival rides, 'all you can ride' wrist bracelet day and carnival food. There will be no other activities taking place on Sunday."
Weekend musical entertainment includes Gerry Huggins, Fields of Eden with Kiki Wow, SweetWater Holler, GTO, Somebody's Dog, The Kings of Country & Gospel, Shannon Cox, Frago/Sellouts, Ukes Ukelele Group, Route 67, Killer Wails, Just Friends, Johnathan Braddy Band, Lisa Long, Merseal Brothers Band, Abigail Tate and Hunter Hathcoat.
One of the biggest schedule changes to this year's Country Days is the annual parade's move from its traditional Saturday morning spot to Friday evening.
"The SERVPRO Country Days Parade will start at 6 p.m. and will go one way up Liberty Street," Hente said. "It will not circle around on Columbia Street on the normal route because that will all be setup with the stage and the vendors. Our hope is that people will be lined up and down Liberty Street, and then afterwards will come over the festival and enjoy some food and music, and arts and crafts.
"Local businesses will have sidewalk sales and have an outdoor presence on the two blocks being added to Country Days, so they can take advantage of the thousands of people who will be right at their business doorstep. There will be local food trucks, as well as arts and crafts vendors up and down the street."
Hente added that the area of the plaza from Columbia to Washington Street will be featuring adult beverage vendors.
"They will be fenced off and any alcohol sales will be within that area," she said. "And again, we will have a stage in that area as well."
Hente noted that Saturday's tractor show will be held on the US Bank parking lot and the car show, with more than 100 classic cars expected, will be taking place at the St. Francois County Courthouse Annex parking lot. Also, the quilt show will also be returning to Farmington Presbyterian Church, as well as the Little Caesar's Moonlight Bike Ride, which will begin at Harp's."
One of the most popular attractions returning this weekend is the Country Days Midway, sponsored by Ozarks Federal.
“It will be set up in the downtown area where it’s always been,” she said. “The carnival has some new rides they’re going to be bringing this year, so everybody has something to look forward to.”
For the first time, this year’s Country Days will be feature a photo contest. People are encouraged to post their Country Days photos on the Farmington Country Days Facebook page. The photo receiving the most likes and loves will be the winner.
Mr. and Mrs. Country Days for 2021 are Mike and Jessie Williams. The couple was originally selected to serve as last year’s “royalty,” but were unable to serve when the event was canceled. The Williamses are well-known in the community through their participation in a number of civic organizations and events through the years, as well as their downtown business, Previously Loved Antiques, located at 104 S. Washington St. and are members of Memorial United Methodist Church.
The 2021 parade marshal will be Hope 4 Autism a Farmington-basked organization founded by Jessica Harmon and Luann Honerkamp in 2012, that raises awareness and funds — as well as offers training another other assistance — for people on the autism spectrum. The organization was selected as the 2020 parade marshal, but are finally able to fulfill that role one year later.
For the latest information about Country Days, the chamber encourages the public to download its free “Eat, Shop, Play in the Parkland” app from their favorite smartphone app store; check out the Country Days Facebook page; and keep in touch with the Country Days media partners, which includes the Daily Journal and Farmington Press.
Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-756-8927 or firstname.lastname@example.org
"As we've planned the return of Country Days, we've received great feedback from people." – Candy Hente, chamber executive director