Kites of Franklin County

Sponsors are being sought for 200 stainless steel kites that can be creatively painted and decorated and then displayed in each of the communities of Franklin County to celebrate the county bicentennial next year. Kites can be delivered primed and ready to paint or plain.

To sign up as a sponsor and begin designing your kite, go to

From left are Mary Beth Rettke, Washington Tourism; Lyn Havin, Havin Material and Artzy Wallz; Emily Underdown, Washington Tourism; Wanda Parsons, City of Union, community development; and James Schmieder, City of Union, assistant city administrator; all members of the kite project committee.

After more than three years of planning, the celebration to kick off Franklin County’s bicentennial will be held this Saturday, Jan. 12, at 2 p.m. in the John Edson Anglin Performing Arts Center on the campus of East Central College in Union. 

The ceremony is open to the public, and everyone is invited to attend. 

The keynote speaker will be Marc Houseman, chairman of the Bicentennial Committee, who will give a brief history of the county’s founding and highlight some of the more interesting points from the past 200 years. There also will be a presentation of historic county photos. 

The Lewis and Clark Fife and Drum Corps will provide music in the lobby, playing selections from the Revolution and Civil War eras and music reflecting the county’s heritage.

A set of traveling history panels depicting various aspects of Franklin County’s history will be on display, along with one of the completed Kites of Franklin County. The 2- by 3-foot stainless steel kite, which will be displayed at the Harney Mansion in Sullivan throughout 2019, is being finished by Best of Missouri Hands artist Joey Los, Hermann.

T-shirts with the Bicentennial logo will be for sale. Cost is $10-15 each. 

Houseman encourages everyone who is interested in county history to attend the opening ceremony to witness the start of this milestone and learn all that is in store for the year ahead.  

“It’s a feel-good moment for all of us to see this get underway,” said Houseman, who was appointed in 2016 by then-Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer. “It’s a chance for everyone to come together as a group to celebrate.”

Deb Depew, D.O., secretary of the Bicentennial Committee, will provide an outline of events and activities that are planned around the county throughout the year. These includes Kite Fest on Saturday, April 6; a scavenger hunt to find all of the Kites of Franklin County that will be installed this spring; a bicentennial parade on Sunday, June 2; and countywide tours of stone churches, ghost towns and more. 

The events and activities are not just for history lovers, Houseman said, adding that some events, like a countywide bicycle ride, are still in the planning stages. 

To see a full list of planned events and more information, go to, and watch The Missourian for more news and feature stories throughout the year. 

Kites Project

Taking Flight

The Kites of Franklin County public art project is making progress, with more than 70 kites already sold, said Wanda Parsons, Bicentennial Committee member. 

The kites were manufactured locally by Heat and Control in Union. There is a bevel that divides the kite into four quadrants, just like an actual kite, and “Franklin 200” is laser cut into the tail of each kite.

The kites are lightweight, each weighing around 5 pounds, and feature three-slot screw tabs on the back (at the top, left and right corners of the kite) making them ready to hang, indoors or outdoors. The kites can be mounted to the outside of a building or to a post outside.

Anyone is welcome to sponsor/purchase a kite and have it decorated as they would like. 

The goal of the Kites of Franklin County is to encourage residents and visitors to explore and discover Franklin County’s communities, businesses, parks and tourist destinations. 

Kites that have been completed and installed by May 15 will be included on maps and scavenger hunt materials.

The Kites of Franklin County will officially end Oct. 31, 2019, when the scavenger hunt ends with prizes being awarded.

All kite sponsors and artists will be promoted in print and online, both at and on social media.

To order a kite, people can go online to and print off an order form to mail in along with payment.

For more information on the Kites of Franklin County, people should call Wanda Parsons at 636-583-3600, extension 1110.

To schedule having the traveling history panels at an event or specific location, people should call Marc Houseman at 636-239-0280.   

This project is made possible through the support of the Missouri Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit organization that connects Missourians with the people, places, and ideas that shape our society.