The opening ceremony to celebrate Franklin County’s Bicentennial has been rescheduled for Saturday, March 9, at 2 p.m. in the John 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. People are asked to register by March 1 by sending an email to email@example.com.
The event had been scheduled for Jan. 12, but a winter storm that brought more than 10 inches of snow to the area forced the ECC campus to close and the ceremony to be canceled.
This event will serve as a formal kickoff of the county’s bicentennial. Last September, an informal ceremony was held at Newport to dedicate a permanent monument at the site of the first Franklin County courthouse.
In December 1818, the Missouri State Legislature made the decision to create Franklin County out of St. Louis County, and it was implemented in January 1819.
County and state officeholders, including Gov. Mike Parson and Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, have been invited to the opening ceremony. Both U.S. senators have been invited, as well as state legislators, present and past county commissioners and local dignitaries.
The program remains nearly the same as originally planned, except for the Lewis and Clark Fife and Drum Corps, which was to present the colors and provide music of the Revolution and Civil War eras and music reflecting the county’s heritage. The Corps is not available March 9.
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.
A set of 15 traveling history panels depicting various aspects of Franklin County’s history will be on display in the lobby, along with one or more of the completed Kites of Franklin County.
Light refreshments will follow the ceremony, and commemorative Bicentennial T-shirts will be for sale.
Deb Depew, who is chairing the opening ceremony, is excited about the presentation and what the committee has put together to showcase the county’s 200 years of history.
“We are thrilled to celebrate the history of the county and how far it’s come with development and diversity,” she remarked. “You think about the French and the Spanish who were here, and the Native Americans, and there’s just so much history that you don’t know until you start reading about it and learning about it.”
The history panels, which Depew described as “museum-quality,” outline the story of the county, including commerce, agriculture, mining, Native Americans and more. She’s excited to share them with the community and to showcase the events already planned for the yearlong celebration.
“This is a great way to celebrate our history and let the public know everything that we have coming,” said Depew.
Bicentennial events will 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;
Parade and festival Sunday, June 2, in Union; and
Kites of Franklin County Scavenger Hunt that will begin in the spring and continue through to fall.
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.
“There is a wide variety of events and activities, which is good,” said Houseman. “And it’s not all just focused on history, like Revolution Cycles in Washington is planning a cycling tour, so I really think there will be something for everyone.
“Little kids will enjoy the parade, and adults will enjoy the festivals, music and tours,” he noted.
Houseman encourages everyone who is interested in county history to attend the opening ceremony to witness the start of this milestone.
“It’s an opportunity for people from across the county, the many different communities, to come together,” he said. “I would like to see it become a way for people from one community to shake hands with people from others, to bring people together as a whole to recognize that we are one governmental entity, one county.”