County Quilt
Texas County's bicentennial quilt is on display at the "21 Art Fest" at the University of Missouri-Columbia. It will be there throughout the weekend. Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO

Saddle up for 200 years of Missouri history at once-in-a-lifetime experiences commemorating the state bicentennial in earnest beginning Friday. 

Events, celebrations and exhibits are ramping up across the state as Missouri’s birthday draws closer. 

The Show Me state joined the Union as the 24th state on Aug. 10, 1821.

With its prime location on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, it was positioned as a key intersection of commerce and transportation. Called “Gateway to the West,” the Gateway Arch in St. Louis is a monument to the role the state played in the nation’s western expansion.

Kicking off a weekend of bicentennial events in Columbia, Together for ’21 Fest will highlight Missouri’s history through music, exhibitions, talks, film screenings, folk art demonstrations, performances and more. Everything is free.

Music includes performances by Little Dylan Blues Band, The Kay Brothers and the Kansas City Latin Jazz Orchestra.

The festival will also have fiddling jam sessions, a square dance demonstration and Voices of Arrow, a theatrical production bringing to life the stories of early Arrow Rock citizens from the Missouri frontier, according to the State Historical Society of Missouri.

During Together for ’21 Fest, all visitors, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear masks in indoor spaces where social distancing is not possible. 

On Monday — the eve of the bicentennial — events in Jefferson City will include Missouri Supreme Court tours, a dedication of the Missouri Bicentennial Bridge connecting Jefferson City and Adrian Island and the unveiling of a huge Bicentennial Chess Board.

Missouri Statehood Day on Tuesday begins at the Capitol with the formal recognition of the state’s Bicentennial, a reveal of the Missouri Bicentennial stamp, bicentennial-themed exhibits in the Capitol including the Bicentennial Quilt and the My Missouri 2021 photograph display.


To start the day, remarks will be given by Gov. Mike Parson; U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt; Gary Kremer, executive director of the State Historical Society of Missouri; Judge Paul C. Wilson, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri; and Carrie Tergin, mayor of Jefferson City and co-chair of the Missouri Bicentennial Commission.

A U.S. naturalization ceremony will be held in the morning to confer U.S. citizenship status on candidates from 20 countries.

A statewide ice cream social will be held in the afternoon at Central Dairy in Jefferson City. Counties across the state will also hand out free scoops for residents.

Some bicentennial celebrations and exhibits began earlier this year. Historical ghost tours, mural exhibits, live music and other events engaged residents in decades of Missouri history.

The Bicentennial Quilt, with one block from each county in the state, will be displayed at the Center for Missouri Studies Friday through Sunday. Previously displayed in many locations around the state, the quilt represents the diverse history of Missourians in different counties. 

—Columbia Missourian

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