INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — At the annual SantaCaliGon Days Festival this holiday weekend, the crowd favorites are back. From mouthwatering food to streets of local vendors, with new and old traditions, it hits the mark with everyone.
But past all the crowds of people, event organizers hope a few will end up at their on-site vaccination clinic this year.
"It’s like a field of dreams. If you build it, they’ll come. This is it,” said Jesse Todd with event security.
The festival is expecting 300,000 to 500,000 people over the four-day weekend, and local health officials from the City of Independence are taking advantage of the crowds. Christina Heinen with the City of Independence’s Health and Animal Services says it was an opportunity they could not pass up.
"There was just no way we could pass up the chance of having access to so many thousands of people,” Heinen said. "That is our goal — to make sure that it is easy, there's no barriers in place for people to get vaccinated."
About 100,000 people attended the festival on Friday, and volunteers at the vaccination clinic say they administered a total of 30 shots. On Saturday, the grand total was 37.
Heinen hopes to vaccinate a couple hundred people this weekend, but regardless of the grand total, every shot in arms is a call for celebration.
Mother Danece Hill and her daughter Melissa Hill first heard there would be a vaccination event at the festival on the news. They saw the signs for the clinic on Saturday and decided it was time.
"Honestly, don’t wait. Just go get it. It’s gonna help,” Melissa said.
For father of three Zachery McClain, he says it is only a matter of time until his job in education will make it a requirement. While he was hesitant at first, he decided to get the Pfizer vaccine after it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
“Don’t have a lot of time to make the time. So when we come out to events like this, it’s just easier to do it at the site of the event,” McClain said.
Those who choose to get vaccinated will be able to choose from any of the three COVID-19 vaccines. People in different stages of the vaccination process are all welcome as well. Heinen says with about a 40% vaccination rate in Independence, volunteers are giving it all they have got.
“We have volunteers here who reach out, they say hello, they are friendly. We try not to push it too much," Heinen said. "They know why we’re here. And we’re more than willing to talk to them and answer questions as we go."
The vaccination site will be open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday and again from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday.