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Kimmswick making comeback this Mother's Day

COVID and flooding nearly wiped the town and its festivals off the map

KIMMSWICK, Mo. — Mother’s Day is a big deal in the town of Kimmswick, Missouri.

And after a couple years that nearly wiped that Mississippi River town off the map, Kimmswick might be making a comeback. Mayor Phil Stang had to ask for donations last year after flooding and COVID wiped out their annual budget.

The Blue Owl Restaurant is a Kimmswick mainstay.

“This is our apple pie,” said an employee in the kitchen said of the nearly-foot-tall pie. “She only has 18 apples inside of it. This is what Miss Mary is famous for.”

Miss Marry is Mary Hostetter, who has owned the Blue Owl for 36 years.

“If you want to come back about 11:15 I’ll have a table for you,” said Mary, to a customer on Mother’s Day morning. 

A year ago, Mother’s Day resulted in 147 orders, and all of them were curbside.

Sunday morning, she pauses between answering the phone and greeting customers from behind the hostess stand to talk to a reporter.

“We are doing social distancing and everyone is wearing masks,” she said. “So, we feel very, very blessed to have 500 reservations for today.”

Historically, this river town’s apple butter and strawberry festivals generate 80 percent of the city’s revenue. But COVID effected those events last year. In 2019, $150,000 of flood mitigation used up the city’s reserves.

That’s what prompted Mayor Stang to ask for donations in October of 2020.

“We’ll basically be out of money by the end of the year,” said Stang, in a 5 On Your Side interview.

Sunday, Stang provided an update.

“We’re in okay shape, right now,” he said. “We’re struggling along, we don’t have a lot of money, but we’re in the shape that I believe we’ll be okay.”

Stang said the kind donations certainly helped. But if anything is going to put Kimmswick back in the black, it’s attention.

“Toward the last part of 2020,” said Stang, “we had a tremendous influx of not only loyal followers but also new people who saw us on TV and came down to shop. So, we had an outstanding Christmas season down here. So that worked very, very well. Also, we are very good managers of our money.”

 Stang also said Kimmswick is making inroads with riverboat companies, like the Delta Queen, to make Kimmswick a stop along their Mississippi River journey. The dock at the Kimmswick port is complete and they should be ready to receive riverboats this summer.