Cancelled Marian Days hurts Carthage economy

CARTHAGE, Mo. – The streets are quiet around this holy place, home to the Congregation of the Mother of the Redeemer. On the first Thursday in August, though, this monastery comes to life, bringing with it thousands of faithful Vietnamese American Roman Catholics, all looking for a place to stay as they worship and fellowship.

“We’ve hosted the same families for all of our years. Some have grown and occasionally people take different trips and don’t come, but for the most part, they stay pretty consistent and that is how we’ve grown to host literally 100 people in the house throughout the home,” explained Libby Collier, one long-time Marian Days host.

Not only does this family open their home, they open up their hearts and embrace the cultural experience these travelers bring with them. While they can’t legally charge rent without a business license, Collier says they don’t have to as many give generously.

“We have a sweet woman who makes hundreds of egg rolls every year as part of her donation. We’ve had aunts who have taught us how to make fried rice and spring rolls in the kitchen so we definitely have been immersed in those family dynamics and how they take care of each other and take care of us,” explained Collier.

Thousands of people would normally be milling about this week, but COVID-19 has put all of that on hold.

“The festival itself is four days, but many people come before that and will stay a little bit after so some people will be here for anywhere from a week to a week and a half. The impact is felt not only in Carthage, but regionally,” stated Mark Elliff with the Carthage Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber estimates there could be a loss of more than $150,000 on Carthage’s sales tax revenue, and Collier says her family will miss the extra cash, and familiar faces, too.

“It’s a reunion for us as much as it is for those people who come and visit. So, we are bummed, and it is a pretty nice source of income for us. Like I said, it’s all donations, but it does kinda fund our back-to-school shopping and special projects with the house,” said Collier.

To help off-set the financial loss of a cancelled Marian Days, the Carthage Chamber is encouraging people to shop small and check out this page to find out what locally-owned businesses are operating through this pandemic.