COVID-19 claims Hastings Kool-Aid Days

Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 9:34 AM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed another Central Nebraska summer event.

Kool-Aid days president Marissa Sitzmore told Local4 that the event, scheduled this summer for Aug 21-23, is postponed until 2021. Sitzmore said that the event’s signature feature, the World’s Largest Kool-Aid Stand, “is no longer an option for us.”

The Kool-Aid stand features unlimited refills when a patron buys a Kool-Aid Days mug, which would be nearly impossible to manage following Directed Health Measure requirements for sanitation, hygiene and social distancing.

With thousands of people attending the festival every year, Sitzmore said it’d be challenging to police the long lines and maintain six-feet of space between each person.

Sitzmore said they are looking out for the safety of their fans and trying to follow state regulations. She said the festival wanted to keep everyone’s safety at the forefront.

“It’s disappointing, definitely. It’s something that the city’s known for,” Sitzmore said. “But on the flip side of that, if someone’s life was put in jeopardy because of the festival I personally couldn’t live with that, and neither could any of the board members.”

Kool-Aid Days has been in Hastings for more than 20 years, and has never been fully cancelled. The event was moved indoors one year due to rain.

The 2020 Kool-Aid Days festival was to be held on the same weekend as the Oregon Trail Rodeo.

Rodeo board members said they plan to move forward with the event so long as the South Heartland District Health Department approves their operational safety plan, which is currently being reviewed.

“We are excited to be moving forward with the 29th Annual Oregon Trail Rodeo August 21, 22, and 23, 2020. Our response from sponsors has been positive and was important in making our decision to move forward,” said Nate Allen, Adams County Ag Society in an email. “We have submitted a health plan to the South Central Health District as is required due to COVID-19 and anticipate a favorable response as we work closely with them to follow their guidance.”

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