About 50 days out from the total solar eclipse, new merchandise has arrived for local businesses and nonprofits looking to cash in during the days leading up to the event on Aug. 21.
Cindy Daffron, executive director of the Pony Express National Museum, came up with the idea of her eclipse T-shirt, “Where Two Trail’s Cross,” after a friend told her that the Pony Express trail from Wyoming to Missouri parallels the path the moon’s shadow will make this summer.
Then she received a donation of Mabel Loving’s original documents and realized it said she attended a total eclipse in 1918.
From that discovery, Daffron has developed a book and interactive diary. She plans to bring in a living history person to read the story of Loving’s trip from St. Joseph to Kansas City by train and car in June of 1918 to see the last coast-to-coast total eclipse to pass over the United States.
“On the back page I want you to do something Mabel did,” Daffron said. “Write down all of the friends that you meet during the solar eclipse because it was just incredible the number of people she met on her trip.”
The 25th-annual Trails West! festival at Civic Center Park started selling Total Eclipse of the Arts T-shirts and pins this weekend. Teresa Fankhauser, executive director of the Allied Arts Council, said wearing either the shirt or the pin can serve as your pass/ticket into the four-day festival.
T-shirts are between $15 and $20 depending on size, and Fankhauser said pre-ordered buttons are $10.
“If you wait until the event they’re $15,” she said. “This year, Wednesday, Aug. 16 is going to be the last day to purchase your buttons in advance at the $10 rate.”
Over at Tipple Hill Winery, owner Roxyann Schreiber said she’s developing a semi-sweet dark red “Totality” eclipse wine. It will be available Aug. 17.
Cris Coffman, the co-owner of Nesting Goods, said that preparation was essential when she asked artists to make eclipse-related items such as earrings, pottery pieces, celestial hairbands and soaps.
“It is such a wonderful opportunity for our artists and for our city, and we’re really excited about it,” Coffman said. “It’s going to be a lot more business than probably most local businesses have ever had. Preparation is everything for something this caliber.”
Coffman also stocks commemorative T-shirts, posters, pins and solar eclipse glass that can be purchased in bulk from the St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Gracia Pinzino, the office manager with St. Joseph CVB, said that she’s been getting orders on a daily basis from states across the country, even Canada, and imagines that sales will only ramp up as the eclipse approaches.