Festus readies for tourism boost with upcoming total solar eclipse

FESTUS, MO – Wednesday was one of the longest days of the year. Two months from now, the skies in the St. Louis area will turn dark. Folks south of the city are gearing up the total solar eclipse.

In Festus, it’s expected to be dark as night for exactly 2 minutes and 36 seconds.

“Pretty exciting; I’d like to witness it in my lifetime,” said Kristen Gray, Festus resident.

Thousands of people are expected to jam the West City Park grounds on August 21 to observe the first total solar eclipse to occur across the continental United States in 99 years.

“Mother Nature placed us very kindly,” said Barb Lowry, Festus event planner. “This is huge and doesn’t happen often.”

She said local hotels don’t have any more rooms available. The Holiday Inn Express was booked up more than a year ago. The eclipse is expected to pump up business at many local businesses.

“When you get that many people in town, they’re going to need gas, they’re going to need food,” Lowry said.

Reservations were coming in from all over the country for lunch at the Main and Mill Brewing Company.

“We actually just got a call from people in California today looking to make reservations,” said Brandon Bischoff, head brewer.

He said they’re brewing up two special beers in honor of the eclipse. No surprise here – both brews will be dark.

Down at the library, you can purchase special glasses to watch the solar event. The library will also bring a device to the park called a sunspotter, so groups of people can watch the eclipse without a chance of damaging their eyes.

“You’re not staring at the sun; in fact, you have your back to the sun when you set the Sunspotter up,” said Kathy Condon-Boettcher, Festus Library.

Some schools in the area apparently are canceling classes the day of the eclipse so kids can enjoy the day at the big eclipse celebration.