About 1,500 Missourians have registered to travel to various part of the state as part of Missouri Explorers, an official bicentennial program to encourage families, individuals and small groups to travel the state, safely, and participate in fun challenges to learn more about Missouri history and culture. Participants in the Missouri Explorers program receive a button after registering and a list of challenges to earn additional buttons. Participants are asked to submit a photo of each stop in their challenge and to share their photos on social media using the hashtag #moexplorers.

There are 28 challenges in the program, including the African American Heritage, Boone’s Lick Road, Butterfield Trail, German Heritage Corridor, City of Fountains, Capitol City, Forest Park Adventure, Missouri Lakes, Missouri State Parks 21 for ‘21, Native American Heritage, French Colonial Heritage, Travel the Mother Road, Historic Gems of St. Louis,  Libraries in the Lou, Missouri Conservation, A Walk Through Time: Missouri Cemeteries, Winding down in Wine Country and the Way of American Genius exploring innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders who helped shape American history, culture and life.

“Throughout the year, we have added more challenges for folks to either travel across the state or explore a little closer to home and, hopefully, come away with a better understanding of Missouri’s diversity and unique cultural and historical places and people,” said Michael Sweeney, coordinator for Missouri’s bicentennial.

From now through November 2021, the Missouri Explorers Program is open to anyone who is interested in traveling and learning more about the geographic and cultural diversity of the state. The program is free, but registration is required to receive merit buttons. Guides to each challenge are listed on the missouri2021.org. Travelers are asked to abide by COVID-19 safety guidelines for each location.

A special, public event on Missouri Statehood Day, marking the state’s bicentennial, will be held at the Missouri State Capitol August 10. The public is invited to attend a formal ceremony on the South Lawn of the Missouri Capitol beginning at 9 a.m. Governor Mike Parson, past governors and other dignitaries will recognize the 200 years of statehood. The public is invited to attend the ceremony in person. In addition, it will be livestreamed on Missouri2021.org for those who wish to attend virtually or view it later.

In addition to the Governor’s Proclamation, in recognition of the bicentennial, the U.S. Postal Service will unveil the Missouri Statehood stamp. Remarks will be made by Governor Parson, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, Gary Kremer, executive director of the State Historical Society of Missouri, Judge Paul C. Wilson, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Missouri, Carrie Tergin, mayor of the City of Jefferson and co-chair of the Missouri Bicentennial Commission.

Missouri’s Poet Laureate Maryfrances Wagner will read a poem for the bicentennial and music will be performed by Missouri Choral Directors Association All-State Festival Choir and the Missouri National Guard 135th Army Band. Following the formal ceremony, the public is invited to a Naturalization ceremony that begins at 11 a.m. in the first floor Rotunda of the Missouri State Capitol. Special bicentennial-themed exhibits will be on display inside the Capitol, including the Missouri Bicentennial Quilt, the Missouri Bicentennial Mural, My Missouri 2021 Photo exhibit, and a Missouri Timeline display.

The Missouri Bicentennial Commission is planning the State Capitol event, including an invite to communities to celebrate Missouri’s birthday Aug. 10 with an ice cream social.  The commission is asking communities to sign up for the statewide ice cream social at missouri2021.org; plan their community celebration and share photos using the hashtag #ScoopsAcrossMissouri. To-date, there are more than 150 registered events in 87 counties for the ice cream social.

The Missouri bicentennial is the theme for the Missouri State Fair, Aug. 12-22 in Sedalia. Our Missouri Celebration features special bicentennial events and exhibits, including Missouri on Mic, a project sponsored by the State Historical Society of Missouri and KBIA operated by the Missouri School of Journalism, to record stories of Missourians during the bicentennial year. In addition, there will be livestock shows and competitive exhibits, entertainment, motor sports and other regular State Fair offerings.

Missouri Statehood Day, Aug. 10, 2021, marks an important milestone of 200 years since the Missouri Territory became the 24th state to enter the Union. More than 200 bicentennial events are taking place this year, statewide, with major public events scheduled in August. Events are being developed with COVID-19 safety measures during the pandemic and in-person activities will adhere to local and state health guidelines at the time of the event.

The public is invited to a free festival Aug. 6-8 on the MU campus in celebration of Missouri’s bicentennial. Most of the events will be at the State Historical Society of Missouri Center for Missouri Studies, as well as Jesse Hall and Auditorium, Missouri Theatre and Peace Park. The three-day festival will feature live music, art, theater, dance, folk arts demonstrations, bicentennial exhibits, a time capsule, tree dedication, book talks, Native storytelling, and more.

“Missouri has a long and often complicated history, well before statehood,” said Michael Sweeney, Bicentennial Coordinator at the State Historical Society. “We planned this festival to celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of our state as we study not only at our past but look toward the future of Missouri.”

Missouri music celebrating Blues, Folk and Jazz, will be performed on stage by Little Dylan Triplett, The Kay Brothers and the Burney Sisters, and Pablo Sanhueza and the Kansas City Latin Jazz Orchestra with Carmen Dence. Missouri Folk Arts will present Missouri fiddling jam sessions and the Music in the American Wild Ensemble will perform new works inspired by Missouri history, culture, and geography.

Students and faculty at the University of Missouri will have some of their bicentennial projects at the festival including a new virtual reality exhibit developed by MU Engineering Information Technology program to showcase the entire Scruggs-Vandervoort-Barney Collection titled: Missouri: Heart of the Nation collection at the MU Museum of Art and Archeology. MU engineering students helped to create a virtual gallery to see all 98 commissioned paintings in 1946-47 that highlights agriculture, industry and recreational activities in the state.  Missouri School of Journalism students at KBIA will also be at the festival to record stories from Missourians and get their thoughts on the state and its future. Missouri on Mic is traveling to various festivals this summer as part of the Missouri bicentennial.

The theatrical debut of a new historical documentary, Missouri! A Bicentennial Celebration, produced by Ozarks Public Television and KMOS-TV will get a sneak preview Aug. 7, 7 p.m., at the Missouri Theatre before it airs statewide on PBS stations Aug. 12.

In addition, special bicentennial exhibits will be on display including the Missouri Bicentennial Quilt and other bicentennial-themed quilts, My Missouri 2021 Photo exhibition, the Missouri Bicentennial Poster finalists, and a smaller-scaled version of the Thomas Hart Benton’s A Social History of Missouri located in the Capitol will be at the festival.

For a full schedule of events in person and livestreaming, visit Missouri2021.org. All visitors will be required to follow the university’s COVID-19 safety regulations at the festival.

The Bicentennial Mural is finally complete and all 15 panels will be shown together for the first time at the A.C. Brase Arena in Cape Girardeau during their Fourth of July festival on Sunday, July 4. The mural unofficially broke the Guinness World Records for the number of people who painted on it for a total of 16,116 painters!

Congratulations to artists Aaron Horrell and Barb Bailey of Cape Girardeau who envisioned this project several years ago and saw it through to completion. Panels of the mural traveled across the state with Horrell and Bailey who invited people of all ages, regardless of skill, to paint a small triangle that was outined by the artists and part of the overall design that includes Missouri state symbols.

The mural will be on permanent display at the Truman State Office Building in Jefferson City after the bicentennial year.

Missouri on Mic traveling audio booth will be at COMO200 festival on July 4, 2021, to capture stories of mid-Missourians for the bicentennial. The project is sponsored by the State Historical Society of Missouri and KBIA. A team of Missouri School of Journalism students will record conversations with local residents about their thoughts living in Missouri and their hope for Missouri’s future.

Missouri on Mic made its debut at the True False Film Fest in May and recorded stories of mid-Missourians at the Columbia Farmer’s Market earlier in June. Missouri residents who are interested in having their stories recorded for the project can visit the audio booth at Flat Branch Park in Columbia, July 4, between 10 a.m.-2 p.m. In the fall, edited stories will air on KBIA and archived at the State Historical Society of Missouri.

“This project has been another reminder for our journalism team of the power of showing up, asking questions and just listening to people,” said Janet Saidi, KBIA assistant news director. “As our student journalists and professional team members engage with citizens at these festivals, we are all transformed by the process, and by the magic that happens by just connecting and listening.”

Using a sound-proof mobile booth that is cleaned between each user, along with social distancing measures in place, participants have a chance to safely engage in an intimate and meaningful conversation that will be part of the state’s official bicentennial collection. There is no cost to participants.

In August, Missouri on Mic will be at Together for ’21 Fest, Missouri’s bicentennial festival organized by the State Historical Society of Missouri and the University of Missouri-Columbia, Aug. 6-8 on the MU campus in Columbia. The audio booth will welcome visitors on Saturday, August 7, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., at the State Historical Society of Missouri’s Center for Missouri Studies. Missouri on Mic will travel to Jefferson City for Statehood Day at the State Capitol, Tuesday, Aug. 10 and will be at the Missouri State Fair, daily, in August.

Missouri on Mic is seeking any Missourians, longtime or recent residents, who can offer brief stories, anecdotes, and responses to provided prompts surrounding their experiences as Missouri citizens. Persons who are unable to attend the events scheduled for Missouri on Mic, can still have their story recorded remotely for the project by contacting KBIA at news@kbia.org.

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