MAKANDA — The 2017 solar eclipse should attract a significant amount of people to the small village of Makanda.
With paths for the 2017 and 2024 solar eclipses intersecting directly over the village, local author and wild mushroom gatherer Joe McFarland said the 2017 eclipse should attract thousands.
As preparations for the Aug. 21, 2017, eclipse are already underway in surrounding cities, McFarland said he has been working on plans to produce an information shop for the village.
"Our local area desperately needs an information center for all the eclipse visitors that will be coming into the area next year," McFarland said. "So (I thought) since the boardwalk is already a well-known attraction, why not put an information center there."
He said the information shop is not all that will be included.
Adding to his plans, McFarland said he and his friend, Bob Baker, along with his wife, Pam — two of the three owners of P, B and J's in Makanda — collaborated to include an eclipse-themed kitchen.
"Pam and Bob had been thinking about opening a restaurant in that building that was selected — and they were going to make an eclipse theme restaurant — and so the three of us got together and decided to make an eclipse-themed restaurant and information center," McFarland said.
Although plans for the information center and eclipse-themed restaurant — properly named the Eclipse Kitchen — began more than a year ago, McFarland said progress has been fairly slow.
"About a year or so ago — that’s when the idea came," he said. "Nothing ever happens very fast in Makanda and it is taking awhile to get things going, but hopefully the shop can be opened for Aug. 21."
Along with preparations to attract visitors, McFarland said the village is also in the process of preparing for crowd management.
"Makanda has got some problems in that it is so small," he said. "The area that is in the valley wouldn't accommodate the many thousands of people that will all love to be down in Makanda, so crowd control and traffic control is a big management issue.
"So we’ve been working with the village board, the village board has been working with the state, and county, and officials, trying to get things organized for preparing for the thousands of people that would be showing up."