By Dennis Minich
Missouri is now officially 200 years old. Tuesday marked the anniversary of when the 24th star was added to the American flag. Celebrations have been planned throughout the state, including Saturday’s Bicentennial Block Party in Harrisonville. Between the farmers’ market, the antique tractor show, kid’s games, bike rodeo, ice cream social and the evening’s music, there was something for everyone to enjoy. It was actually kind of interesting to hear a group of people sing “Happy Birthday” to a state.
Although The Love the Square group has hosted various events in the past, Saturday’s event was by far the best organized and attended event. Very special kudos have to go out to the group of volunteers who dreamed up, planned, organized and executed the birthday celebration.
As was pointed out during comments Saturday evening, these kinds of things don’t just happen. It takes people behind the scenes working and planning. Sadly, these are also the people who don’t get to play and have a good time, but instead have to work to make sure everyone else has a good time.
But I think it is very safe to say it was a wonderful day and we look forward to future Love the Square events.
One of the events Saturday was some Missouri trivia. I knew some of the answers, but was never given the opportunity to answer. For example, I knew the state animal was the mule and the state song was “The Missouri Waltz.” I did not, however, know Mozarkite is the state rock. Delving deeper into that fact I saw that Benton County has the largest deposits of the stone. I find that interesting because the Benton County seat, Warsaw, holds two distinctions in the state’s history. It has the coldest temperature ever recorded in the state, -40 degree in February 1905. It also is tied for the warmest temperature ever recorded in the state, both Warsaw and Union reported 118 degrees in July 1954.
I knew the official state musical instrument was the fiddle and the official bird was the bluebird. I did not, however, know the official horse is the Fox-Trotting Horse or the honey bee was the state insect.
While it is probably somewhat common knowledge that ice cream is the official state dessert, I think it is interesting to note the ice cream cone and iced tea were both invented as part of the 1904 World’s Fair which was held in St. Louis.
Since I got burrowed into Missouri trivia, I came across some other interesting facts. Missouri, along with Tennessee, are the only states which border eight other states. Missouri is also the only state to have two federal reserve bank branches. I didn’t know Missouri is the largest producer of lead in the nation. Missouri has 114 counties and 108,000 farms.
I never found a definitive answer on how to pronounce the state’s name (rah or ree), but did learn the word Missouri was a Native American term meaning “town of large canoes.”
Believe it or not there was actually a flyover during the national anthem Saturday evening. We’ve seen the big planes fly over stadiums or other venues when big events are transpiring and we had our own right on the square. After the Honor Guard had lined up and the strains of “The Star-Spangled Banner” were being belted out, a flock of birds took off from the bell tower of the courthouse. Their angle produced a shadow on the ground which looked very similar to overhead aircraft. I don’t know if anyone else noticed the fly over, but I got a chuckle out of it. I also watched closely to see if any of the aerial objects performed any kind of bombing run. I am proud to say they did not.
If you are the type of person who likes to keep their calendar organized, please note it is just 99 years and 363 days until Missouri’s tricentennial.