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Callaway County's eclipse plans begin to finalize

Callaway County's eclipse plans begin to finalize

June 16th, 2017 by Jenny Gray in Local News

Callaway County director of tourism Renee Graham puts on eclipse viewing glasses. The Great American Eclipse will take place August 21. Several events have been planned in Callaway County for the days leading up to the eclipse.

Photo by Connor Pearson /Fulton Sun.

It's just two minutes, 38 seconds of actual darkness, but four days of events in Callaway County. Nobody knows how many people will come, but make no mistake about it: They are coming.

"People are scouting and coming by," said Carol Trokey, recreational forester for the local district of the Mark Twain National Forest.

She said a campground will be available to visitors, but an open field may also be available to campers with portable toilets provided.

"We've had lots of phone calls," Trokey added.

On the day of the eclipse — Aug. 21 — the stars will come out in the middle of the day. Night birds and insects coul begin to chirp, then fall silent in total darkness for several minutes. In Callaway County, all eyes will turn to the sky for the Great American Eclipse of 2017.

Plans have been in the works since last year, where the event is dubbed "Light and Shadow." An eclipse group has been meeting nearly every month, spearheaded by Renee Graham, director of tourism in Callaway County.

"It's difficult for us to say how many people we'll have at any one event," she said. "Some people are saying 1,000 people. Some are saying 50,000 people (in total).

Events hosted locally will include an art exhibit, live music, hot air balloon glow and wine tastings at two wineries. A slate of events is also posted online at bit.ly/2sl7zXK.

The eclipse will start in mid-morning and continue through the early afternoon. It will take more than an hour for the moon to move directly across the face of the sun, beginning and ending the total eclipse.

Graham said safety tips need to be widely published as the event nears, as well as instructions for parking, etc. Cooling stations will be needed as temperatures in August can easily reach the 100s.

"The fire department will be staffed fully," she added.

She also mentioned satellite viewing areas are being planned, including one in Kingdom City and another at Crane's Country Store near Williamsburg — both sites are close to Interstate 70.

"People will probably want to get off the interstate to designated safe areas for viewing," Graham said.

The city of Fulton also will open its soccer complex off Route F.

As that Monday is a business day, many people will probably just walk outside to gaze. Some people are planning for lots of visitors.

"There will be lots of house parties," Graham said. "It's kind of like prepping for an ice storm that may or may not happen. Don't wait till the eclipse to get your toilet paper or essentials. If you're going to have barbecues, get your propane early."

Eclipse viewing glasses were ordered early on, and the Callaway County Library also purchased some to be distributed at their eclipse events. They will be available (for $1) in many event locations.

Some of the planned events include:

Aug.18

Light and Shadow Art Exhibit and Reception, 7 p.m. Cox Gallery at William Woods University.

Aug. 19

Activities in Fulton's historic Brick District (Time to be determined):

Art demonstration at Fulton Farmers Market.

Create a Light and Shadow art piece at the Art House.

Aug. 20

Afternoon music and program at Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, which houses the National Churchill Museum. The church was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, who was an astronomer before he was an architect. The church was moved from London to Fulton to commemorate Sir Winston Churchill's 1946 Iron Curtain Speech.

Evening celebration at Serenity Valley Winery, with live music and a hot air balloon glow.

Aug. 21

Viewing party at Serenity Valley, plus "satellite" viewing stations in Fulton's Brick District, Holts Summit and other locations throughout the county.

For more information, contact Callaway County Tourism at 573-642-7692. In-depth coverage of the Great American Eclipse can be found at www.eclipse2017.org.