The DeWitt City Council voted unanimously during its March 27 meeting to approve road closures for the August Ox Roast. The closures are standard business for the summer festivities on Main Street and Bridge Street, but this year’s edition will include two additional closures for the car show, on South Scott Street and further west down Main Street.
The car show had taken place at the Riverside Park in the past but will now be closer to downtown DeWitt.
“The local businesses that are in that four-corner area, they remain open and that’s why you want to move the car show up,” said Dave VanArsdall, president of the DeWitt Memorial Association, who are in charge of organizing the Ox Roast. “So, the people that come up can not only see what the Ox Roast has to offer, but the new businesses.”
The Ox Roast is DeWitt’s annual three-day summer festival of bringing everyone downtown with activities and events that can get everyone involved.
VanArsdall presented the closure proposal to city council during their meeting.
“Our detours that we typically set up will be a little bit different because of these two blocks,” said DeWitt City Administrator Dan Coss. “We always try to encourage folks, those folks that are close enough proximity, to walk, just because there are so many people from out of town are driving into town and traffic gets very tied up.”
The motion by the city government is the first formal step in the process from their end, said Coss, marking the start of spring with summertime activities around the corner.
The 2018 Ox Roast will be from Aug. 16 – 18, per their website.
Those affected by the additional closure will be residents who live along the streets that are being shut down, but VanArsdall said there haven’t been issues in the past.
“The residents that live along these two blocks, we’ll have to work with them ahead of time to make sure they can park their cars outside the barricaded area in case they still need to leave town and have access to their vehicles,” said Coss.
“We usually don’t have any overnight parking on the streets,” said City Mayor Sue Lemming. “But, we allow those folks because they have to move their car out of their driveway for three or four nights.”
Both said there will be notices given to the affected residents well in advance so they’re able to prepare ahead of time.
Although the road closures may present short-term inconveniences, people will work around them for the sake of the city festivities, Lemming said.
The Ox Roast, in its 73rd edition, plays a key a role in bringing people downtown.
“It’s a huge opportunity to show off our city,” said Lemming. “It brings people to downtown DeWitt that have never been there before, and it sort of showcases all the business and different things we do have in our downtown.”
“It’s a good chance for people who haven’t been to places,” said Ellie Hundt, general manager of Sweetie-licious Bakery Café which is on North Bridge Street. “It does bring people down[town] and people that have never seen what DeWitt has to offer.”
The Ox Roast continues to be DeWitt’s signature event.
“It’s the one summertime festival that we have in our downtown, it draws a lot of people,” said Coss. “We certainly encourage people to come down and check it out.”
“The Ox Roast is classically DeWitt, and it’s always been that way and I hope that it always will be,” said Hundt. “People look forward to that every year, and as a business owner we want to do what we can to support the community as well.”