Missouri turns 200 today. The state is celebrating with numerous events and community projects.
From the Missouri Bicentennial Jubilee, to Statehood Day at the Capitol, Missourians are remembering their history and its place in the framework of the United States.
Nearly every county is hosting an ice cream social. Various ice cream shops are offering free or discounted treats in honor of the day. These special events have been ongoing and are scheduled through the end of the year, but Missouri earned its official statehood on Aug. 10 back in 1821.
Placed in the middle of the country, Missouri is known as “The Show Me State,” and a gateway for people traveling from the East to the West. It has a long history, and so, The Epoch Times interviewed Gov. Mike Parson about the bicentennial and what it means to him.
He was eager to praise the state, “I think of how proud I am to be a Missourian and the values that we all share.”
He explained the importance of looking back on heritage and history and how it keeps traditions alive while moving into the future with positivity. “When you look at all the difficult times we’ve gone through in history—even more difficult than today—and all we’ve been through even now, we overcame it and we became a better state.”
When asked what his favorite part of the bicentennial celebrations has been, he said, “The Bicentennial Tour itself. Going around to the small towns around Missouri and remembering all the great people who came from our state.”
He listed off famous figures such as Mark Twain, Lewis & Clark, and Jesse James. Then he noted how the tour also brought him closer to the people and that visiting lesser-known areas of the state has made him more connected to it. “Small towns are the heart and soul of Missouri. It’s great to get out with everyday people and see how we all share certain values.”
He then mentioned that the Bicentennial Tour has led him to discover new treasures in Missouri. His favorite landmark is a lesser-known sculpture named Maxie the Goose. This 62-foot goose is the largest in the world and was created by Kansas City native David Jackson in the 1970s. It is on display in the city of Sumner, the Wild Goose Capital of the world, which hosts a Goose Festival every year in October.
“Those unique things make our state very special.” Parson chuckled. He went on, “If you ask me what I remember most about this state—and I fly over it all the time—it’s the big cities, the farmland, the rolling hills; the Ozarks. Man, this state has just about something for everybody.”
Missouri is known for many things, including cities like St. Louis, which is home to the Gateway Arch and Cardinals baseball. Having hosted the 1904 World’s Fair, it is where ice cream cones and cotton candy were invented.
The state has witnessed various changes over the years, and 2020 was no different. In regards to COVID-19 concerns and bicentennial events, Parson acknowledged the challenges, but mainly focused on the necessity of cultural events. “It’s important to celebrate the 200-year anniversary of our state. I think people are really aware of the situation we’re in. They know what they need to do. We’re a lot better off than we were a year ago.”
In addition to today’s ice cream socials, there will be a major celebration at the Capitol in Jefferson City next month. Parson was excited to speak about the details, “On Sept. 18 in Jefferson City, we’re gonna have a Bicentennial Inaugural Parade and this will be a little different than other parades because it’s going to tell our history.”
He mentioned that there will be people dressed as Lewis & Clark and other notable historical figures from Missouri and that the parade is just the start.
“Later that day there will be a quilt on display that will have a piece from each of the counties.”
The quilt is meant to symbolize unifying each of the different areas, along with another display that will show all of the Missouri sports team trophies and awards together for the first time.
Parson said that there will be plenty for everyone to enjoy on Sept. 18 and that the night will be topped off with “a huge fireworks display” and the Bicentennial Ball, which will be held outside and opened to the public.
These events are highly anticipated and draw in tourists who wish to celebrate local histories within the nation. Missouri now has 200 years of official American heritage. Like the governor, many Missourians are celebrating and taking this time to look back as the future moves ahead.