Celebrate Neosho, Neosho’s annual pre-Independence Day celebration to recognize the nation’s founding heritage, will once again encompass the entire day on Saturday, June 28.

For the third year festivities will begin in Morse Park and conclude at the Hugh Robinson Memorial Airport.

Wes Franklin, Neosho public relations and events coordinator, said he is thrilled to already have more people registered to celebrate health and fitness by participating in the Celebrate Neosho 5K Run/Walk than who participated in last year’s opening event.

“To date, 97 people signed up for the 5K run,” Franklin said. “Last year, we had over half the people sign up the day of the run and we only had 91. So the fact that we already have 97 and we’re still two weeks out, I think we’re going to have a great event.”

The 5K begins at 7:30 a.m. from the soccer fields, and Franklin said the route follows the paved walking trail through some shady and scenic areas. Trophies will be awarded for the top overall male and female and for the top three finishers in each age division. Franklin said there are eight age divisions, and added that so far entrants range in age from 7 to 74 years old. Entry forms are available on the city of Neosho website, and registration will be held prior to the race.

Another earlier activity is the kids fishing derby from 9 to 11 a.m. on the east bank of Hickory Creek across from the Morse Park ballfields. Franklin said the creek is stocked year round with both brown and rainbow trout.

“And Neosho National Fish Hatchery is always really good at stocking Hickory Creek before the event,” he said.

The local hatchery will release several hundred additional fish for the event, though Franklin advises that Missouri fishing regulations do apply.

“They can keep up to four fish, which is the limit for trout. But, if they do keep it – if they are 15 or under (or 65 and older) – they don’t need a fishing license, but they do need a trout stamp,” Franklin said.

 Franklin said trout stamps are about $3.50 and can be obtained ay any sporting goods counter.

Franklin said kids don’t need to bring their own pole or equipment to enjoy the kids fishing derby.

“The Neosho National Fish Hatchery, they’re wonderful to us. They always provide fishing poles for the kids and everything; we even provide the bait,” he said. “All they need to do is bring themselves.”

Franklin said prizes will be awarded for biggest and most fish caught, and he added that once the derby is over, the stream is still available to anyone who wishes to fish with their own equipment.

Franklin invites kids of all ages to celebrate old-fashioned fun with old time games in the park between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Events will include sack races, three-legged races, tug of war, egg races, wheelbarrow races and more.

Franklin recounted the events of last year.

“I was actually really surprised at the number of kids who came who didn’t know what some of these games were,” he said. “They had never played them before. But they had a blast; it was great to watch, especially the sack races.

“I only planned on having one sack race but we had like 12 because the kids wanted to keep competing. They love that old stuff and they didn’t even know anything about it. They had never done a sack race before, or a three –legged race, and it was just hilarious!”
Franklin hopes to have a dunk tank during the old time games in the park and attract some “local faces,” and added that everything is free.

The Neosho Lions Club will host a rubber duck race down Hickory Creek beginning at noon. Franklin said the cost to enter is $5 a duck, or you can get five ducks into the race for $20; and cash prizes will be awarded. To secure your duck for the race, he said to contact any Lions Club member, or visit Silhouette Imaging on the downtown square or Eric Norris State Farm Insurance.

Franklin invites everyone to celebrate past times and cool rides on the historic Neosho Square as the Neosho Rotary Club hosts its annual Car, Truck & Bike Show from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Information about the show, including how to enter, is available by calling Kevin Hatfield in the Edward Jones office downtown, 417-850-0940.

Franklin said a short film festival will be held at One14 Coffee Bar & Venue.

“It’s sponsored by the Neosho Arts Council, and it’s called the Celebrate Neosho Short Film Festival; it’s a six to eight minute short film with the theme, ‘Celebrate Neosho.’ And then they’re going to screen the winning film that afternoon.”

He said official rules and guidelines can be found on the Celebrate Neosho Short Film Festival Facebook page.

As the day turns to evening, Franklin said what had traditionally been the Celebrate Neosho main attraction has now become a show-topper rather than the show-stopper. That designation has now been accorded to Matt Younkin and his Magic By Moonlight Aerobatic Show.

First off, though, Franklin invites everyone to celebrate good food and cool crafts from 3:30 to 10 p.m. as the scene shifts to the airport. He said a large variety of food items and crafts will be available from dozens of booths that have already registered. Meanwhile, pony rides and inflatables will be available for a reasonable price.

Franklin said Younkin will fly in and drop off the Skyranch Skydivers to kick off the festivities at the airport at 4 p.m. and then everyone is encouraged to celebrate great local and area music as Totojojo will hit the stage at 4:30 to begin the Battle of the Bands, followed by Rusty Rose, the Fabulous Backroad Drifters, and wrapping up with Str8 Shot at 8:30 p.m. He said members of the 4 States R-C Club will perform remote control airplane demonstrations and other attractions will occur during breaks in the music.

Franklin said Younkin will return as it gets dark to serve as the day’s show-stopper. After performing a daylight aerobatic performance in his twin engine Beech 18 aircraft at 6 p.m., he said Younkin will begin flying again at 9:30 to thrill the crowd with his Magic By Moonlight Aerobatic Show. He said Younkin’s nighttime show with lights and smoke was well received when he performed in 2012 when Celebrate Neosho returned to the airport after being held for many years exclusively at Morse Park.

Following the night time aerobatics, Franklin said Celebrate Neosho will wrap up with the traditional fireworks show from AM Pyrotechnics of Buffalo, Mo., at 9:45 p.m.

More details on the later Celebrate Neosho activities at the Hugh Robinson Memorial Airport, including Matt Younkin and his Magic By Moonlight Aerobatic Show, will be forthcoming next week in the Neosho Daily News.