Two hundred years ago, the Missouri State Legislature created Franklin County out of St. Louis County, and this Saturday, March 9, the community will begin a yearlong celebration of events and activities.
The opening ceremony for Franklin County’s Bicentennial will take place 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.
County and state officeholders, including Gov. Mike Parson and Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, have been invited, along with both U.S. senators, state legislators, present and past county commissioners and local dignitaries.
The colors will be presented by Company M, 1st Missouri Light Artillery, the Turner Brigade, Missouri Volunteers, U.S.
The keynote speaker will be Marc Houseman, chairman of the Franklin County Bicentennial Committee, who will talk about the history and progress of the county. There also will be a PowerPoint presentation of historic county photos.
Light refreshments will follow the ceremony, and commemorative Bicentennial T-shirts will be for sale.
A set of 15 traveling history panels depicting various aspects of Franklin County’s history will be on display in the lobby. The “museum quality” panels outline the story of the county, including commerce, agriculture, mining, Native Americans and more.
The panels are available to be set up at an event or specific location this year. For more information on that, people should contact Houseman at 636-239-0280.
Several of the completed Kites of Franklin County also will be on display. The stainless steel kites are part of a public art program designed to celebrate the bicentennial with a symbol that represents the county’s namesake, Ben Franklin.
The kites, which measure 2 feet by 3 feet with a 2-foot-long tail, were manufactured locally by Heat and Control in Union. Each kite was purchased by a group or individual to paint or decorate as they saw fit.
Several kites have already been installed at sites around Franklin County. A scavenger hunt encouraging people to visit each one will begin in the spring and continue through fall.
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.
Many more events and activities to celebrate the bicentennial are planned throughout the year. They include:
Kite festival Saturday, April 6, from 1 to 4 p.m. in Union;
Bus tour of historic cemeteries Saturday, April 13;
5K run/walk in St. Clair Saturday, May 4;
Bus tour of ghost towns around the county Saturday, May 18; and
Parade and festival Sunday, June 2, in Union.
A number of communities around the county are planning their own bicentennial celebrations, which vary from daylong to weeklong events. To see a full list of planned events and more information, go to www.franklinmo200.com, and watch The Missourian for more news and feature stories throughout the year.
This program is sponsored in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council and with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, for a more thoughtful, informed, and civil society.