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. Some events will also be live streamed for Missourians unable to attend in person. Among the major events planned to commemorate the bicentennial include the Together for 21 Fest organized by the State Historical Society of Missouri and the University of Missouri. The three-day festival, Aug. 6-8, will be held at the Center for Missouri Studies and the MU campus in Columbia. The event will include live music, folk art demonstrations, children’s programming, talks/lectures, documentary film screenings and bicentennial traveling exhibits.

On Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, First Missouri State Capitol State Historic Site will host a bicentennial commemoration event for the public in St. Charles. The historic site is where Missouri’s first legislature met from 1821 to 1826 before the State Capitol was moved to Jefferson City. Tour the historic rooms where statehood began, attend lectures and walk the stationary parade route. The event is being organized by Missouri State Parks.

Jefferson City will be the location for several days of bicentennial festivities open to the public Sunday, Aug. 8, and Tuesday, Aug. 10, at the State Capitol in Jefferson City. These events include a Gold Star Memorial dedication, the dedication of the Bicentennial Bridge, a Statehood Day ceremony in conjunction with a U.S. Naturalization ceremony and an ice cream social. The Missouri Bicentennial Commission is planning the State Capitol events, 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.

The Missouri bicentennial is the theme for the Missouri State Fair, Aug. 12-22 in Sedalia. Our Missouri Celebration will include special bicentennial events and exhibits, along with livestock shows and competitive exhibits, entertainment, motor sports and other regular State Fair offerings.

Sixty works from artists across Missouri are represented in a traveling exhibit to commemorate Missouri’s 200th year of statehood. It is making a stop at the State Historical Society of Missouri’s Art Gallery from April 9 to May 15, which is located at the Center for Missouri Studies, 605 Elm St., Columbia.  Missouri Art Now, A Bicentennial Celebration is a juried exhibit that showcases the state’s dynamic visual arts culture and diversity. Artists ages 18 and older who reside in Missouri were eligible to enter the show. Among the nearly 400 entries, 60 works were chosen for the exhibition.

“We wanted to make sure the art represents works from each region of the state, so locale played a significant role in selecting art for this exhibition,” said Jill Sullivan, executive director of Post Art Library in Joplin, who helped oversee the exhibition. The types of work selected also vary, including acrylic and oil paintings, photography, sculpture, mixed-media, ceramics and watercolor. Subject matter ranges from abstract to landscapes, portraiture, and more.

Sullivan sees the exhibit is a snapshot of what’s happening right now in Missouri arts during the 200th year as a state. “Missouri has had a rich history in art. It’s also important to recognize Missouri’s strong, vibrant visual arts culture and artists today, said Sullivan. “I think it accomplishes what we set out to do for this traveling exhibit during the bicentennial.”

Following its stop in Columbia, the exhibit will at Spiva Center for the Arts in Joplin from May 29-July 17, Hannibal Arts council in Hannibal from July 24-September 4 and will finish with a run at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in St. Joseph from September 18 to November 7. Missouri Art Now, A Bicentennial Collaboration is a collaboration between The Arts Council of Southeast Missouri, Cape Girardeau; the Hannibal Arts Council, Hannibal; Post Art Library and Spiva Center for the Arts, Joplin; and the Albrecht-Kemper Museum, Saint Joseph.

Communities in Missouri have an opportunity to put their town or city’s folklore in the spotlight this bicentennial year. Grants for the Legends & Lore Roadside Marker program is funded fully by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, which established the program to promote cultural tourism and celebrate legends and folklore as part of local and state heritage. Missouri is one of 11 states eligible to receive the grant. The Missouri Folks Arts Program at the University of Missouri is the state’s organizer for the grant and invites communities across the state to participate.

“We are excited to join colleagues across the country as a Legends & Lore state partner – and to be the first to represent the Midwest,” says Lisa L. Higgins, director of the Missouri Folk Arts Program. “Missouri’s bicentennial year is an inspiring time and we hope Legends & Lore will encourage local communities to mark the Show-Me state’s unique culture in an enduring way.”

Applications are being accepted now through May 3 for the first of two application periods in 2021. The Pomeroy Foundation has funded over 70 Legends & Lore roadside markers to commemorate endearing local stories. One of those markers celebrates Ichabod Crane and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” It’s said that this famous Washington Irving character was based on a real schoolteacher named Jesse Merwin in Kinderhook, New York. Another example is a Legends & Lore marker located Talcott, West Virginia, recognizing the folk hero John Henry and the famed story of his race against a steam drill.

“Missouri has many legends of our own – from Momo the Missouri Monster who was “seen” along the Mississippi River in St. Charles County to The Spooklight sometimes visible on a country road at the edge of Missouri and Oklahoma,” said Higgins. “Generally speaking, folklore is the stories, customs, traditions and expressive arts and crafts that are passed on from one person to another and often generation to generation. We’re excited about this opportunity and hope communities across the state will apply for the grant.”

More information on the Legends & Lore Marker Grant Program is found here or by contacting the Missouri Folk Arts Program 573-882-6296.

A new bicentennial program is underway to encourage individuals, families and groups to travel the state and participate in fun challenges and learn more about Missouri. Participants in the Missouri Explorers Program will receive a button upon registration and a list of challenges to earn additional merit badge buttons. To achieve the merit buttons, participants will be asked to submit a photo of each stop in their challenge. Participants can also share their photos on social media using the hashtag #moexplorers.

Challenges in the program include the German Heritage Corridor; Native American Heritage; Travel the Mother Road, Route 66; Get your Kicks in St. Louis; Historic Gems of St. Louis showcasing civic treasures and historic sites; A Walk Through Time: Missouri Cemeteries; The Way of American Genius exploring innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders who helped shape American history, culture and life. The challenges are being sponsored by Missouri Humanities Council, Explore St. Louis, Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society, Drury Hotels, Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum, and Missouri Highway 36 Association. Additional challenges and sponsors are still being added to the bicentennial program.

“We have a growing list of challenges that would allow Missourians 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.

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 is listed on the missouri2021.org website under Missouri Explorers. Also, if organizations are interested in sponsoring a new challenge, they can inquire about the program by sending email to contact@missouri2021.org

Two sixth grade students from Jackson and Monroe Counties and two high school students from Cape Girardeau and Moniteau Counties are among the top four finalists of the official Missouri Bicentennial Poster contest. The four students were among 225 Missouri students who submitted designs for the theme: Sharing Missouri’s stories: past, present and future. The poster competition, open to all Missouri students in grades 3-12, was held to commemorate Missouri’s bicentennial in 2021.

The poster finalists are Lehualina Taula, 6th grade student at Fire Prairie Upper Elementary in Independence; Luke Ensor, sixth grade student at Holliday Elementary School in Holiday; Mia Foote, 11th grade student from Jackson High School in Jackson; and Ingrid Keene, 9th grade home-schooled student from Tipton.

Each of the finalists will receive a certificate and $200 prize money at several bicentennial poster unveiling ceremonies in mid-March at the counties where each student is from. Officials from the Missouri Bicentennial Commission and school officials will be at each of the local ceremonies. Judges from the Bicentennial Commission selected four final designs, including two designs from grades 3-6 and two from grades 7-12. Hallmark Creative Marketing Studio of Kansas City partnered with the commission to get the selected posters into their final format.

Vinnorma Shaw’s 1921 poster for the Missouri Centennial Exposition at the Missouri State Fair is an iconic reminder of the Missouri Centennial commemoration. Likewise, the final designs of this year’s Missouri Bicentennial Poster contest will serve as a lasting reminder of 200 years of statehood.