Nothing can stop Heather Roeder and Cathy Dimino from coming to the Santa-Cali-Gon Days Festival in Independence. Not the 100 degree heat Friday nor remnants from Hurricane Isaac in 2012.
“It was pretty soggy last year,” said Dimino, who is from Liberty. “But it’s a tradition. It’s what you do.”
The festival started Friday on the Independence Square. There are about 60 food vendors from a variety of area charitable organizations and about 300 booths of crafts and other artisans. The carnival, which is between Osage and Liberty at the south end of the festival, opened Thursday and continues through Monday.
“This is my first year coming to the festival,” said Bridget Myers of Belton. “It’s nice. Hot, but nice. I had to come and see what this was all about.”
In addition to the crafts and food, there are several entertainment stages at the festival. The Main Stage includes acts such as Joe Diffie, Brett Eldredge, 6 Degrees West and the LoCash Cowboys, while the Community Stage has area dance schools and community entertainers. There is also the Gospel Stage and the Homegrown market and Music Stage.
Even though the heat kept some away during the first day of the festival, booths were still open serving food and drinks. One of the more popular booths was the Sierra Club, which was making freshly squeezed lemonade and limeade. Bryan Combs, Sierra Club volunteer, said the organization has been at the festival for many years. He said it is a good way to market the group, while also fundraising for future projects.
“This is such a large celebration, which is why we have kept coming for years,” he said. “It seems like a good venue for fundraising. We squeeze the lemons and limes right here.”
Roeder, who is from Pleasant Hill, said she goes straight to the craft booths first. She and Dimino, who she describes as her “BFF,” have taken Friday before Labor Day weekend off for the last six years just to come to the festival.
“We go to the same Christmas ornament booth every year to get our ornaments,” she said. “Then when the mood hits, and there is food there, we stop.”
Dimino said it is never a question if the pair come to the festival, they just do – rain or shine.
“You don’t have to be from Independence to come to Santa-Cali-Gon. You can be from Liberty, Pleasant Hill, anywhere,” she said. “We always have a great time.”