This is the ninth in a series dedicated to the upcoming Bicentennial. | This article was originally published in our June 2021 Issue.

Two hundred years ago, in 1821, after a difficult journey to become a state, Missouri finally did. In 1818, Congressman Henry Clay from Kentucky introduced the official petition for Missouri’s statehood, but the slavery conflict intervened with no settlement. In 1820, President James Monroe signed the Missouri Bill, but an issue with the Missouri constitution arose and took time to resolve. Finally, on August 10, 1821, President Monroe announced that Missouri was admitted to the Union, officially granting it statehood as the twenty-fourth state in the United States. To learn more about the early trials and tribulations of Missouri becoming a state, visit MissouriLife.com/the-struggle-for-statehood or order a copy of our March/April 2020 issue.

Two hundred years later, we acknowledge Missouri’s complicated history and celebrate our progress. The Show-Me State has played a pivotal role in the shaping of our nation as a whole, and even trying to truncate our two centuries of history as an official state is a challenge. Ask a citizen of another state what comes to mind when they think of Missouri, and they might mention the St. Louis Arch or the shuttlecock sculptures at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. They might mention barbecue, German heritage, beer, blues, jazz, or rock-and-roll. They may conjure the words of one of the legendary writers who was born here, from Mark Twain to Maya Angelou, or they might name some of our championship professional sports teams.

Trying to distill our state and its legacy down would be a Herculean undertaking, but luckily we don’t have to. Instead, we invite you to visit the museums, historic sites, cultural centers, and parks all around the state that are commemorating our bicentennial with events and exhibits that give us a glimpse into our past. Here, we’ve rounded up twenty-one events to celebrate our state’s birthday, two hundred years in the making.

My Missouri 2021 Photo Project, St. Joseph Visitors Center, June 4–28
This is the last stop for this photo exhibit, which showcases two hundred photos taken by both professional and amateur photographers in the Show-Me State. The photos encompass everything Missouri has to offer, including the beautiful outdoors, the changing seasons, wildlife, monuments, and more. If you cannot make it to the exhibit in person—the best way to see it—view the digital exhibit online. Read our full story on this photo project at MissouriLife.com/this-is-our-missouri.
Missouri2021.org/my-missouri-2021

Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival, West Plains, June 5

Come together and celebrate Missouri’s important birthday at a music festival. The Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival shines a spotlight on the distinctive culture of the Ozarks. The festival is in its twenty-sixth year and will feature local and regional musical artists performing everything from storytelling ballads to gospel singing. It will also feature artisans and demonstrators who showcase basketmaking and blacksmithing along with mule jumping competitions.
OldTimeMusic.org

Show Me Kansas City: A Missouri Bicentennial Lecture Series, virtual, June 17
Learn more about Missouri’s history virtually on June 17 during “Black Baseball & Black History,” which features Dr. Raymond Doswell, vice president of Curatorial Services at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Discussions will show how Black baseball players paved the way for civil rights. Additional lectures will be held on July 15, August 19, September 16, and October 21.
MoStateparks.com/event/90031/virtual-show-me-kansas-city-missouri-bicentennial-lecture-series

Two Hundred Years of Notorious Crimes in the Show-Me State, Jefferson County Library–Windsor Branch, June 19

Missouri has had its fair share of notorious crimes ranging from the works of the James–Younger gang to “Stag” Lee Shelton. On June 19, at the Jefferson County Library–Windsor Branch in Barnhart, learn about crimes committed here, everything from old unsolved mysteries to current crimes.
JeffCoLib.org

Bennett Traditions, Bennett Spring State Park, Lebanon, June 24, July 22, August 26, September 23, October 28

In honor of the bicentennial, Bennett Spring State Park is hosting monthly programs with twenty-minute presentations that cover natural and historical topics that relate to the park and surrounding area. After the presentation, there will be a twenty-minute quilting lesson that relates to the presentation topic. Registration is required.
MoStateParks.com/event/90351/bennett-traditions

Missouri 2021 Bicentennial Art Show, St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre, June 24–August 15

The St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre is accepting pieces of artwork that showcase a better understanding of Missouri and its people. Pieces will be accepted on June 21 from 9 am–8:30 pm, and they will be on display from June 24–August 15.
StPetersMo.net/arts-center.aspx

Salute to America, Missouri State Capitol, Jefferson City, July 2–4

Celebrate Independence Day on the steps of the Missouri Capitol and downtown beginning on Friday July 2 with a parade, a carnival, a beer garden, and live music. Saturday will also feature a main stage concert. Sunday will include the extravagant fireworks display over the Missouri River. View it from the north lawn of the Capitol.
VisitJeffersonCity.com/salute-to-america

Quilt Show: 200 Quilts for 200 Years, Plattsburg Artists Coalition, Plattsburg, July 20

Two hundred quilts will be on display to celebrate two hundred years of Missouri. The Missouri Bicentennial Quilt, which is made with 115 quilt blocks to represent the 114 counties in Missouri and the independent City of St. Louis, will also be on display at the show. Visit MissouriLife.com/bicentennial-quilt-project to learn more about the Bicentennial Quilt (above), which was years in the making.
PlattsburgArtists.com

Missouri Bicentennial Pictionary & Jeopardy, St. Francois State Park, Bonne Terre, August 6–7
St. Francois State Park offers three hiking trails, including one with equestrian access, shaded picnic sites, easy access to Big River, and now fun ways to celebrate the bicentennial, too. From 6–7 pm on August 6, Missouri Bicentennial Pictionary will be hosted at the campground playground. On August 7, from 8–9 pm, Missouri Bicentennial Jeopardy will feature all Missouri-themed questions. Both games at St. Francois State Park are free to participate in.
MoStateParks.com/event/88831/missouri-bicentennial-pictionary
MoStateParks.com/event/88836/missouri-bicentennial-jeopardy

Clinton Main Street Bicentennial Birthday Bash, Downtown Clinton, August 7
Clinton, home of Missouri’s largest downtown square, is hosting a bicentennial celebration beginning at 2 pm with food, live music, a car show, and more. Local shops will also be open.
ClintonMo.com/downtown

The Statehood Day at the Capitol, Jefferson City, August 10
For the first five years of Missouri’s statehood, the state capitol was actually in St. Charles instead of Jefferson City. It moved in 1826 to Jefferson City where it still is today, and there’s no better place to celebrate Missouri’s Bicentennial than at the current Missouri State Capitol itself.
MoStateParks.com/page/55186/missouri-state-capitol

1820s Picnic, Felix Vallé House State Historic Site, Ste. Genevieve, August 10

On the actual day of the bicentennial, celebrate from 11:30 am to 1 pm at the Felix Vallé House in Ste. Genevieve and learn about Missouri’s French roots. The house was built in 1818 and has 1830s furnishings throughout. Pack your own picnic and enjoy lunch on the lawn.
MoStateParks.com/event/89916/1820s-picnic

Struggle for Statehood, Springfield, Lee’s Summit, St. Louis, St. Charles, June 6–January 7, 2022

Struggle for Statehood is a traveling exhibit that showcases Missouri’s tumultuous history and entrance into the United States. The exhibit will be at Springfield-Greene County Library from June 6–August 6. Then it moves to Summit Center in Lee’s Summit from September 21–October 26. Immediately afterward, you can see it at the Eugene Field House Museum in St. Louis from November 1–December 3, then it hops over to the First Missouri State Capitol in St. Charles from December 6–January 7, 2022. If you can’t make it in person, there is also a digital exhibit online at MoHumanities.wixsite.com/struggleforstatehood, starting with a painting by George Catlin that depicts the war chief of the Osage and two of the tribe’s warriors. Additional pieces in the exhibit showcase the transfer of the Louisiana Territory in New Orleans in 1803 and the Missouri State Capitol.
MoHumanities.org

Bicentennial Time Capsule
Contribute to a time capsule that won’t be opened until 2046. The State Historical Society of Missouri is accepting contributions until August 10, 2021. Complete the online contribution form, then mail your contributions to 605 Elm Street, Columbia, MO 65201. Once they are received, you will be sent a certificate of contribution. On August 27, 2021, the Saint Louis Ambassadors will seal the capsule, then it will be stored at the State Historical Society of Missouri until August 10, 2046, when it will be opened for the public.
Missouri2021.org/time-capsule

Missouri Explorers Program, various locations, now through November 30
This program offers a list of challenges to Missourians, including some in Jefferson City, in St. Louis, and on Route 66. The Missouri Cemeteries Challenge prompts you to visit six in at least four counties. Locations of twenty cemeteries are also included. You can register as an individual or group to participate. If you submit photos throughout the program after completing challenges, you will receive merit buttons.
Missouri2021.org/missouri-explorers

Post Mail Art Projekt 2021, Joplin Public Library, now through December 31, 2021

Anyone can participate in this ongoing mail art project. The library will accept any works of art, but typically in mail art, the decorated package itself is the art piece. The library’s goal is to collect two hundred pieces of mail art from Missourians who represent their hometown through the art. Jill Sullivan, the executive director of the Post Art Library at the Joplin Public Library, named the project and thought it would be fun to use the German spelling for “project” since she has a bachelor’s degree in German. New pieces that are received will be on display at the Joplin Public Library alongside the current collection of three hundred pieces of mail art. You can send in your mail art to the Joplin Public Library at 1901 E. 20th Street, Joplin, MO 64804.
JoplinPublicLibrary.org

Show Me Hooked Rugs 2021, Missouri State Museum, Jefferson City now through December 31, 2021
See three dozen traditional hooked rugs on display at the Missouri State Museum in Jefferson City. Guest lecturers will make appearances periodically throughout the year.
MoStateParks.com/park/missouri-state-museum

Bicentennial Community Service Challenge, various locations, now through December 31, 2021
Missouri 2021 is hosting the Bicentennial Community Service Challenge to encourage Missourians to help their communities in honor of the Show-Me State turning two hundred. To participate, go to the website and download the volunteer form. If you complete two hundred hours of volunteer work and send your form to the Missouri Community Service Commission postmarked before December 31, 2021, you will receive a certificate of appreciation.
MoVolunteers.org/bicentennial-community-service-challenge

Missouri Main Street Bicentennial Passport, various locations, now through December 31, 2021
Missouri Main Street Connection is promoting exploration of Missouri with its Bicentennial Passport that features more than fifty events across the state. You can request a copy or download the passport online, then collect a stamp at each place you visit. If you collect twenty-one or more stamps, you will qualify for the prize drawings, which include gift certificates, food, and a private tour of the Governor’s Mansion, among other prizes.
MoMainStreet.org/bicentennial

What Were You? A Bicentennial Exhibit, The Grand River Historical Society Museum, Chillicothe, now through December 31
Walk through history as you browse exhibits that show what people were experiencing in 1821, 1921, and now in 2021. You’ll see exhibits that focus on what people were wearing, what music they were listening to, and what they were driving so you can see how much life has changed over the years.
ChillicotheMuseum.com

Holt County Bicentennial 200 for 200, now through December 31, 2021
Holt County has created a goal to collect two hundred pairs of socks to commemorate Missouri’s two hundredth birthday. Once all pairs are collected, they will be sent to the Holt County Toy Committee and added to bags that also include clothing, food, candy, toys, and more that will be donated to children in need. You can find donation bins at businesses in Mound City, Oregon, Maitland, and Craig.
HoltCountyMoHistoricalSociety.com

Visit the event websites before traveling. More events can be found at Missouri2021.org.

Photos // West Plains Daily Quill, Dennis Crider, Carrie Tergin, The State Historical Society of Missouri, Missouri State Parks, Missouri Humanities, Post Art Library, Missouri 2021