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Columbia tourism officials expect ‘economic boost’ from True/False Film Festival amid pandemic


The annual True/False Film Festival in Columbia starts Wednesday, and the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau expects it to be the economic boost Columbia needs as the pandemic winds on.

Bureau spokeswoman Megan McConachie said festival capacity is not as large as it was before the pandemic. However, she still expects a good amount of people to come use hotels, shop in stores and eat at local restaurants.

"It's still going to definitely give our town an economic boost as we continue to recover from the pandemic," McConachie said.

Matt McGee, owner of On the Rocks in downtown Columbia, said he's not sure what impact this years festival will have on businesses downtown.

"Any event that comes to Columbia is an economic benefit I would just question whether or not this would be as great of an impact as it could be if it was placed a little bit differently," McGee said.

The True/False Film Festival's partner hotels, including Drury Plaza Hotel Columbia East and The Tiger Hotel, are expected to be full or nearly full this weekend -- a rarity during the pandemic.

The Drury Plaza Hotel Columbia East is at 60% occupancy for Monday through Thursday and 70% occupancy for the weekend, with at least 20 reservations specifically for the True/False Film Festival. However, the hotel expects to reach about 80% or 90% occupancy for the weekend.

A spokesperson for the Drury Hotel said this occupancy rate is average compared to past Ture/False festivals.

The Tiger Hotel is sitting at 85% occupancy for Friday and Saturday. However, a spokesperson for the hotel said people tend to book last minute, so the Tiger expects to reach 100% capacity for the weekend.

Most of the festival will take place at Stephens Lake Park because of the pandemic. Traditionally, True/False is held throughout downtown Columbia.

"True/False has made a lot of adjustments this year, including moving the event outdoors, the number of films the festival is screening, and making sure everyone is safe," McConachie said. "They have pretty much made every adjustment under the sun to make sure the festival could happen this year."

A drive-in venue will also be available for the public in the lot of the Holiday Inn Executive Center, with nightly screenings. The Ragtag Cinema is an indoor option for the event. However, there is limited seating and social distancing is required.

Nickie Davis, executive director of the District Downtown, said the plan is to have the True/False Film Festival 2022 return to downtown Columbia.

"We expect true false to be back downtown next year and we are ready for them with open arms," Davis said.

This year, Masks and social distancing will be required at the festival even when outdoors.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

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Zola Crowder

Zola Crowder joined the ABC 17 News team as a multimedia journalist in June 2020 after graduating from the University of Missouri with a broadcast journalism degree. Before reporting at ABC 17, Zola was a reporter at KOMU where she learned to cover politics, crime, education, economics and more.


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