I can clearly recall being on the Neosho Historical Square in the early ‘60’s. I have no memory of the specific year, but it was some time after the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The Cuban Missile Crisis seems to have been a catalyst for a nationwide movement of preparation that was intended to ease concerns and provide some hope in the shadow of the potential nuclear threat. The practicality of the measures could be debated, but that is for a different platform.
My recollection of the local impact of all these “troubles” included a mock missile that was erected on the inside parking area of the Neosho Historical Square. This mock missile loomed above all of vendor displays at the northeast corner in the parking spaces immediately off of the Newton County Courthouse lawn.
To the best of my recollection, most of the vendors that year were promoting bomb shelters of all types or information regarding the proper preparations and supplies that would be needed. There may have been other types of vendors, and I am certain that there were, but there were enough that vendors filled up the Historic Downtown Square.
The 2020 Neosho Fall Festival won’t have a mock missile but will have plenty of vendors to visit and a variety of products to purchase. The Historic Downtown Square will be filled with Show Cars, Trucks and Motorcycles, live music performances, Soap Box Cars on display and Soap Box Car Racing, lots of things to eat from kettle corn to BBQ, fine art items, and of course all the craft vendors.
I can’t recall from the early ‘60’s if it was during the Sidewalk Sale days or the Newton County Fair Days or even as late as 1965 when the Fall Festival began, but I do know that events and festivities on the Historic Downtown Square are now somewhat of tradition for the community. Residents of Neosho, community members living in the county around Neosho, and those many visitors who travel from afar have come to expect the grand presentations and great times provided by the many events hosted in Neosho.
Support from the attendees through their continued patronage and the yearning they have for the next festival has instilled an expectation that festivals will take place as planned. This year has increased that desire as many social events have been taken away over the past few months. Since people need social contact, it has heightened the desire and expectation for the Neosho Fall Festival. Social contact can be accomplished without physical contact which maintains one aspect of the safety precautions associated with the coronavirus. Additional precautions will result from everyone’s participation in the wearing of mask, maintaining the disinfection of their hands, and social distancing. All of this is a bit inconvenient, but worth the opportunity to continue with an event that has become more than just an event, but a tradition.
Safety is the result we want from the 2020 Neosho Fall Festival, because now it is a tradition thing!
-Paul Richardson is the proprietor of In Sane Marketing Solutions. He writes a weekly column, The Horse I Rode In On, for The Aurora Advertiser and The Neosho Daily News.