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Church's cancellation of huge Independence Day event in Springfield took many by surprise

March 17, 2011|by Chad Plein, KY3 News | cplein@ky3.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- One of the most highly anticipated events of the summer is canceled.  James River Assembly of God says it's not money but timing that ended its annual I Love America religious and patriotic celebration.

After reviewing schedules and looking over plans for another event on the grounds of Springfield Underground, James River Assembly of God Charities says it just can’t continue the 14-year Independence Day event that’s attracted thousands of families.

Springfield Underground is hosting the Show-Me Music and Arts Festival from June 17-19.  The church’s leaders say that event means they wouldn’t have the time needed after the music fest to put its show together.

Many cities in the metropolitan area don't have the money to put on an Independence Day event, including Springfield, which again hasn't budgeted for something like Firefall after dropping the event three years ago.  The cancellation surprised Springfield leaders and those from the Convention and Visitors Bureau, although none had any figures about how I Love America affected restaurants and hotels in the city from out-of-town visitors.

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News of the I Love America cancellation on Facebook surprised many, and was criticized by others. 

With a door shut, however, a window appears to be opened for others.  Eric Gaisford of Heart of the Ozarks Sertoma Club hopes his club’s Ozark Duck Race on June 24-25 at Finley River Park in Ozark will attract more attendees.  Along with the rubber duckies, the kenetic contraption race, and games for kid, the Sertoma Club is planning a fireworks display with proceeds going to the Care to Learn Foundation.

James River Assembly Charities says this decision counts not just for this year but for years to come.  It says it’s just not fair to have it on and then off and then on again.  Church leaders say they’ll focus their energy and money into a different capacity for the community but they haven’t decided what that would be.

Some people wondered why the church couldn’t find another location.  Kert Parsley, the church’s chief operations officer, says Springfield Underground was the perfect venue.

Springfield Underground owners say they didn't know scheduling the music and arts fest in mid-June would jeopardize the Independence Day celebration 16 days later.

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