The Missourian celebrated its 12th anniversary of promoting summer reading this year with a record number of children completing the two-month reading project in the newspaper.

Children who read the “Diggin’ Our Differences” educational series in the newspaper and submitted their entry form received a free Thursday ticket to the Washington Town and Country Fair along with other Fair perks.

The program was initiated in 2001 with the Bank of Franklin County. Each spring, Summer Reader Booklets are distributed to area schools with details on The Missourian In Education program, as well as information on reading programs offered through Washington Public Library and Scenic Regional Libraries.

In 2005, the Washington Town and Country Fair joined the effort and began offering a one-day child’s Fair ticket as an incentive for children to read throughout the summer. All children who read an annual two-month educational series in The Missourian and submit an entry form receive a ticket to get into the Fair on Thursday.

This year’s series, “Diggin’ Our Differences,” featured stories on foreign exchange students who attended high school in Washington during the 2012-2013 school year.

A total of 323 children, ages 4-15, returned completed entry forms. The young readers were from 21 area communities.

A reading event was held Thursday at 5 p.m. during the Fair in the Family Fun Center. The Reader Recognition Ceremony was open to all young readers, regardless of their participation in The Missourian In Education project.

The photo above shows all of the children who attended the event at the Fair.

This year, Bank of Franklin County provided a free copy of the March 2007 Missourian Book Buzz Pick “Falling for Rapunzel,” by Leah Wilcox, to every family in attendance at the event.

Fair Chairman Al Behr, Co-Chairman Paul Brune, and Jerry Jasper, of Bank of Franklin County, standing in the back row of the photo above, acted out the story on the stage to raucous laughter from children and parents alike. Pictures and a video of the performance can be found at

Young readers who read the newspaper’s series and returned a completed entry form were entered into a drawing for the Grand Prize Reader Reward Basket.

Evin Lakso, 5, son of Angie and Justin Lakso of Union, won the basket which included a season pass to the 2014 Washington Town and Country Fair, a $100 gift card from Bank of Franklin County, Missourian Book Buzz books, and other Fair memorabilia.

The Missourian In Education Summer Reading Program was honored by the World Association Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) in 2011. It is sponsored annually by the Bank of Franklin County and the Washington Town and Country Fair.