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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • Monument holds 70th Carver Day celebration

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  • DIAMOND — More than 1,000 people visited the George Washington Carver National Monument on Saturday to observe the monument’s 70th Carver Day celebration.
    Organizer Curtis Gregory, park ranger, said the event, marking the establishment of the monument, drew visitors from across the four-state area.
    “It’s one of our biggest celebrations,” Gregory said. “It’s just special that it’s the 70th. I think we’re over 1,000 visitors so we’ve had wonderful turnout.”
    Gregory said the Carver Monument, the first national park to honor an African American, was established in mid-July, 1943.
    “Carver Day celebrates the establishment of the park in 1943, as well as the accomplishments of George Washington Carver,” Gregory said. “So it’s a big celebration just honoring the legacy of George Washington Carver. It’s almost down to the day.”
    The annual Carver Day event included a full day of activities, with musical performances from the likes of blues, jazz and folk musician Lem Sheppard, the Sensational Wonders gospel singers, the Second Baptist Church Choir, InCourage, and the Kansas East State Sunshine Band children’s group.
    The day also featured storytelling from Loretta Washington, of St. Louis, who shared African American folk tales, a presentation and book signing from Carver scholar Dr. Linda Edwards, a presentation from State Rep. Bill Reiboldt, speeches by Deb Sheals and Angie Gaebler, who have performed a study on the 1872 Neosho School that Carver attended, and a Carver scholarship presentation.
    Also set up around the park were several booths, including old-fashioned children’s games, local exhibitors, and stations for children to earn their junior ranger badges.
    “After 70 years it’s grown tremendously,” Gregory said of the monument. “It’s always been a rich history park. We’ve always had lots of visitors, but it’s grown. We have a larger visitors center, we seem to be getting more visitors that come to the park, and it seems to be growing each day.”
    While the event annually draws a large crowd, with an approximate 1,000 in attendance last year as well, not everyone was there for the same reason on Saturday.
    Christie (Lindsey) Wagner, of Midlothian, Texas, made the trip to Diamond to try to learn more about her family history.
    Wagner said she has just recently started her genealogical research, and believes that her family, the Lindseys, descend from the Carver family.
    “It means tracking my family, on where we came from,” Wagner said of what Carver Day meant to her. “I’m just starting to look it up.”
    Saturday was Wagner’s first time at the Carver monument, which she said she found impressive.
    Page 2 of 2 - The George Washington Carver National Monument was established to preserve the birthplace and childhood home of George Washington Carver, a scientist, educator, and humanitarian. The GWC National Monument is located two miles west of Diamond on Route V, then a quarter mile south on Carver Road.

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