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98th annual Pinckneyville Mardi Gras scaled way back

By Renee Trappe
updated: 8/22/2020 5:37 AM

The 98th annual Mardi Gras in Pinckneyville is taking a big hit this fall, but the pageant, the 50/50 raffle and T-shirt sales will go on as usual.

What is missing are the popular events like the Mardi Gras parade and the vendor fair, that bring hundreds of people to Pinckneyville to shop, listen to music and enjoy themselves.

"There are certain things we are not doing but we are not canceling (the event)," Pinckneyville Chamber Executive Director Christian Feltmeyer says emphatically.

"We just want to keep the community safe during these crazy times."

The chamber board reluctantly pulled the plug on the more populated Mardi Gras events earlier this month.

"It was a tough decision," Feltmeyer said. "It's going to hurt our businesses. So many of them rely on our vendor fair and the extra money they make. I've already gotten phone calls from people looking forward to participating."

Feltmeyer said details about the Mardi Gras Queen pageant and the 50/50 raffle are still being worked out, so stay tuned.

He said the chamber made the decision after consulting with Pinckneyville city officials, the Perry County Health Department, other area event organizers, and the survey it held on the chamber Facebook page.

Since that poll was published, however, the number of COVID-19 cases in Perry County have elevated, the chamber said in a Aug. 12 news release.

"We understand that some might say that we are cancelling too soon because who knows what will be happening in October," the release says. "We don't know what is going to be happening in our community with COVID-19 in October, but we do know that Mardi Gras takes months of planning and preparation.

"These hard decisions had to be made now to allow the board and volunteers to begin planning for what we can safely achieve."

Feltmeyer said no one wanted to be responsible for a big spike in COVID-19 cases, and they took note that many other local events have been canceled, including the Perry County Fair and the Du Quoin State Fair.

He and the board decided it would be too hard to police the vendor fair or the Mardi Gras parade to keep visitors socially distanced and wearing masks. "We don't have enough manpower," he conceded.

The 2020 theme is "Halloween in the Ville."

Still ongoing
• Mardi Gras Queen pageant
• 50/50 raffle
• T-shirt sales
• "A few other fun and different things"

Canceled for 2020
• Mardi Gras parade
• Vendor Fair
• Car show
• Business Trick or Treat

"The 98th annual Mardi Gras will look very different this year, and the chamber board is asking for the community's patience as we move forward with the Mardi Gras events that can be done safely for the public," the news release stated.

"Mardi Gras is a long-standing tradition in our community and that would not be possible without the continued support of the community. The Pinckneyville chamber has proven to be a strong organization, and COVID-19 is teaching all of us that strength is vital right now.

"We will get through this as a community and have many memories to share with future generations when talking about 'the Mardi Gras that didn't happen.'"