Hi neighbors. Here we are again celebrating Bushwhacker Days in Nevada. So why do we do this?
The same reason most small towns celebrate Founders Day or Groundhog Day or any other historic event relevant to that particular community. It is to recognize a shared history and shared goals.
I tell visitors that we don't celebrate the town being burned down, we celebrate it being rebuilt after the flames of the Civil War were extinguished by time. For those who don't know, this section of Missouri reflected all the angst and trials of the Civil War more than any other single place in America.
Our region was patrolled, fought over, burned out and bushwhacked by both opposing military forces, and all the other factions eager to make a profit off of the combatants and the civilians.
But the war ended and there came a time when not a single gunshot could be heard for days and nights at a time. People beat their swords into plowshares and returned to growing crops and to being a civilized society again.
The most difficult thing facing our community, and many others in Missouri, after the Civil War was learning again who you could trust. Old loyalties would cause flare ups and disputes among neighbors ... fortunately most were resolved without pistol or rifle involvement.
As time passed, our loyalties turned closer to home and developed into a sense of community. We learned to get along, respect each other's ideals and work together to improve our town, our county and our own lifestyles.
With an expanding common goal of development of commerce, agriculture, railroads and, later, highways, we could share our work, share our resources and share our pride in the community we were developing together.
Migrants from all across America and beyond its borders made Vernon County their home and became part of the effort to keep it thriving.
Just as Vernon County residents rebuilt the courthouse as soon as possible after it was put to the torch in the Civil War, citizens today continue to build upon the foundations of solid economic strength that determination fired so long ago.
But, not only do we know how to work hard, we know how to party! After a week of hard work, neighbors would gather for small get-togethers. Some of these would become local "picnics" or "fairs" and people from all over the county would gather to eat, dance and enjoy each other's company.
For many years Bushwhacker Days in Nevada has epitomized this institution of local gatherings to celebrate community growth, good crops and neighborly spirit of the citizens.
I hope you can get out and enjoy the craft booths, food carts, local business offerings, music, dancing, reenactments, historic interpretations and activities at the Bushwhacker Museum, parade, bands, local entertainment, royalty competition, puppet shows, dog shows and many, many other events. Oh, and don't forget the carnival rides!
Give yourself some time to stroll around the Square. I guarantee you'll meet people you know. People you have worked with, people who took care of you at the hospital, teachers from your children's school, friends from your church, people who run the local businesses you count on to have what you need; your neighbors.
You can see the many floats, bands, clubs, churches and organizations represented in the parade. You'll know most of these people. Support all the time they put in decorating those floats! Give them a "holler" when they pass by, let them know you appreciate their participation in the community party.
There will be lots of places, events, items, entertainment, rides, things to see and do that you will enjoy. Trust me, just get to the Square! That's where the party will be. And remember, the community that parties together grows together. See you on the Square!