Mayor Richard Davidson graciously allowed me to take his column space this week to tell you all about Celebrate Neosho on Saturday, June 29.

Mayor Richard Davidson graciously allowed me to take his column space this week to tell you all about Celebrate Neosho on Saturday, June 29.

And what a celebration!

Celebrate Neosho is held the weekend before the Fourth of July and is our city’s major Independence Day festivity. But more than that, it’s a celebration of pure Americana. It’s a celebration of community. It’s a celebration of family.

After all, family fun is what this day is really all about. And guess what? There are no admission or parking fees. As I was telling someone recently, you don’t have to spend a dollar if you don’t want to.
The day kicks off at 7:30 a.m. with a 5K Run/Walk, starting at the soccer fields in Morse Park and heading north to the end of the walking trail and back again. We are awarding first, second and third place trophies for the top finishers in all age divisions, which range from 7 years old to 60 plus. And you get a T-shirt just for participating. There is a $15 registration fee prior to June 29 to cover the cost of the T-shirts and awards. If you sign up the day of the event the registration fee is $20, so why not save five bucks and simply sign up now? You can either download the form off of our website,, and mail in with a check, or fill it out in person at Neosho City Hall, 203 E. Main, any time between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.

The 5K is simply a great way to get outdoors and burn some calories with your friends and neighbors while enjoying the natural beauty of Neosho’s Morse Park. If you’ve never participated in one of these before, this would be a good one to try, since it’s pretty informal.

Do you have kids? Grandkids? Nieces and nephews? Know someone who does? Next up that Saturday, June 29, is the kids fishing derby from 9 to 11 a.m., on the east bank of Hickory Creek in Morse Park, near the walking bridge and across from the ballfields. This event is free and open to kids of all ages. They don’t need to bring any supplies. The Neosho National Fish Hatchery is providing fishing poles, Grandpa’s Hunting and Fishing Shop is providing bait, and Beth Persons and the Friends of the Neosho National Fish Hatchery group is setting up a fish cleaning station. Know why? Because the kids get to keep their fish! That’s if they want to, rather. We also have lots of cool prizes lined out, courtesy of local businesses.

Now, I might add that all Missouri fishing regulations will still apply. This means that kids 15 and under will need a $3.50 trout stamp if they plan to keep the fish they catch. Kids 16 and over will need a $7.50 trout stamp and a fishing license if they plan to keep the fish. If they’re catching and releasing, kids 15 and under will not need any kind of stamp or license. Kids 16 and older will just need a fishing license, for catch and release. I know for a fact that these can be purchased in the sporting goods department at your local Walmart, and I’m sure at most sporting goods stores as well.

I think kids these days would really benefit by taking a break from the video games and television and participating in a wholesome, traditional outdoor activity such as fishing. If you agree, please bring the children in your life to the fishing derby. You don’t have to pre-register. Just show up and sign in when you get there.

I’m testing a theory for the next event that day. My theory is that we all aren’t “too cool” anymore to participate in some good, old-fashioned community fun. The “Picnic in the Park” will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. across from the ballfields in Morse Park and include things like sack races, wheelbarrow races, three-legged races, tug-of-war, etc. Medals will be given out to the winners, and even some free swim passes for some events. If there is interest, we may also hold a watermelon seed spitting contest for anyone wanting to show off their seed-spittin’ skills. The Neosho Fire Department may even bring their firehose and set up what will amount to a giant sprinkler for the kids to run through.

You can either bring a picnic lunch, or buy some food from the Neosho Little League, which will be set up nearby at the ballfield concession stand. Little League is always in need of extra funds to keep their worthwhile ball program going, so I hope you will help them out.

After 3 p.m. you will have a couple of hours to go home and get the kids cleaned up, or shop about town, before the main event at 5 p.m. at the Neosho Hugh Robinson Memorial Airport.  The airport is located at the south edge of town, along State Highway 59, at 1400 Terry Johnson Drive.
I’m really excited about this one. Yeah, everybody says that, but I actually am!
There is no admission or parking fee.

We will have more than 50 food and crafts vendors set up, selling everything from Frito pies to funnel cakes, to fajita wraps. One vendor is even deep-frying candy bars as a side item. We’ll also have home made root beer, ice cream, barbecue brisket, pulled pork sandwiches, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, corn dogs, kettle corn, and lots more!

There will be pony rides and inflatable rides from Mike’s Amusements, though ticket fees will apply. I won’t speak for Mike England regarding ticket prices, since it’s his prerogative to change them, but the prices I was given are pretty nominal and he offers good deals. Calvary Baptist Church of Neosho will also have some kids games available.

AMI Radio Group is sponsoring a battle of the bands competition starting at 5:30 p.m., with the prize being a professional music video from Union City Studios. They have been accepting band demos and will choose the best ones to compete at Celebrate Neosho, so that should be fun. As far as I know, we have never had a battle of the bands competition at Celebrate Neosho before.
Stunt pilot Kyle Franklin — no relation, by the way — will perform later that evening, and some other local pilots have organized a flour bombing and spot landing competition at 5:30 – just for fun. Of course, the public will be able to watch it all!

The local RC Club have offered to perform some remote controlled airplane demonstrations, just getting the crowd ready for what’s to come.
At twilight, which will be about 8:30 p.m., Kyle Franklin will take to the skies for some death-defying acts in his new monster biplane “Dracula.” This is the first season for “Dracula,” which was designed by Kyle’s late father, Jimmy Franklin. Kyle spent years building this plane after his dad’s death. I’ve seen it up close on the ground, as well as in the air, and it’s pretty cool. Seeing Kyle spiral down toward the earth at dangerous rates of speed is just icing on the cake.

There will be a little bit of time between the aerobatic act and the finale to go grab some more kettle corn or soda or whatever else you desire, and then back to the lawn chair or blanket for the fireworks show at full dark (approximately 9:30 p.m.) This year’s show is being put on by AM Pyrotechnics, of Buffalo, Mo., though the actual shooter is from Neosho. An interesting note about the fireworks: They are all manufactured right here in Missouri, at the Buffalo facility. No Chinese stuff. Not even one burst.

And, with that, Celebrate Neosho 2013 will conclude until next year.

Just one more thing:  Without the help and support from generous sponsors in the community, we wouldn’t be able to put on as great an event as we’re going to have. We have listed, and are listing, them on our Facebook and Twitter pages, in more than 190 radio ads (for the top sponsors), in newspaper ads, and on our new flyers, and their logos will be on our event T-shirts (for those that got their sponsorship in prior to June 1), and we’ll continue to promote what they have done for us, even after the event. The entire community thanks you! I love to see this kind of involvement. If you didn’t get a chance to be a sponsor, you’ll definitely be on the top of the list next year!

I hope to see you all on June 29 as we “Celebrate Neosho!” For more info about any of these events, just call me at 451-8050 or 658-8443.