REVIEW: Historic Fourth of July around Kansas City in 2022 [History Tour]

In 2022, I wanted to do something “different” during the Independence Day weekend. In the past we have done the tried and true fireworks and BBQ weekend, which while being a classic way to celebrate, gets somewhat boring after a while. Yes, I did do some fireworks, but that was the icing on the proverbial cake in terms of what all we did that weekend. I am, of course, writing this WAY after the fact, but I figured I’d get this out there to help potentially get some ideas for people in 2023. I wanted to show that there are MANY things for folks to do in and around the general Kansas City Metro area that aren’t cramming into crowded high school parking lots to watch a fireworks display. Being a HUGE history guy, This all sort of fell into my lap when we visited Fort Osage to get a stamp for my son’s Jackson County Young Historian Passport. This was actually the week before the fourth, so we were sure to come back again to see what was happening. Missouri Town was recommended to me by Facebook, and there were even more festivities around (including Shoal Creek) that I was unable to squeeze in, maybe next time!

Historic Fort Osage; Sibley, MO & Missouri Town 1855; Lee’s Summit, MO

Since this is sort of an “add-on” to my previous entries, The following are some links for the “main” articles for these sites:

Fort Osage

Missouri Town 1855

Background:

I’m assuming most that read my blog are from the United States, but I occasionally do get random waves of international readers, so I will go ahead and drop a block of Wikipedia info here on what exactly Independence Day is:

“Independence Day (colloquially the Fourth of July) is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the Declaration of Independence, which was ratified by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, establishing the United States of America. The Founding Father delegates of the Second Continental Congress declared that the Thirteen Colonies were no longer subject (and subordinate) to the monarch of Britain, King George III, and were now united, free, and independent states. The Congress voted to approve independence by passing the Lee Resolution on July 2 and adopted the Declaration of Independence two days later, on July 4. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, political speeches, and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the national day of the United States.”

The next two are from the Jackson County Parks and Rec website, and highlight information for last years festivities:

Frontier Fourth at Fort Osage

“Experience Fort Osage as a young republic celebrating its nation’s founding. Cannon, musket firing, military drill along with stirring patriotic speeches make for a fun-filled day.

  • 10:00 – 4:00 Historic Cooking (Factory Kitchen)
  • 10:00 – 10:30 Flintlock Musket Firing Demonstration (Factory Veranda)
  • 11:15 – 11:45 US Army Recruitment by Surgeon’s Mate (Factory Veranda)
  • 12:00 – 12:30 Ink and Quill Writing Demonstration (Factory Dining Room)
  • 1:00 – 1:30 Reading the Declaration of Independence, Speeches and Toasts (Factory Veranda)
  • 2:00 – 2:30 Flintlock Musket Firing Demonstration (Factory Veranda)
  • 3:00- 3:30 Cannon Firing Demonstration (Block House 3)
  • 3:45 – 4:15 Medical Presentation (Officer’s Quarters)
  • 4:15 15-Star Flag Lowering (Fort Parade Ground Flagpole)”

More info HERE

Independence Day at Missouri Town 1855

“Experience how Missourians celebrated our nation’s independence in the 19th century. Patriotic speeches, children’s games, period cooking and dancing are just a few of the many interpretive activities you’ll find as you explore the mid-19th century village. All are invited to join in the traditional Missouri Town Independence Day Parade at 12:00 noon.”

More Info HERE

Reading(s):

In terms of book recommendations, I suppose I should try to find a book about colonial Independence Day celebrations or something, but I feel that it may be too narrow of a topic for this. With that in mind, I already have read a number of books that cover both of these sites, all of which I will list below.

The Trip:

Fort Osage

Fort Osage has a very structured program with numerous activities that can be seen above. While we were unable to see everything, we particularly loved the rifle firing demonstration, the cooking demonstrations, the reading of the Declaration of Independence, and the firing of the cannon, which doesn’t happen very often at the site. The park was not very busy, and was full of historic re-enactors in full costume and in character. If there was one day to visit Fort Osage, a day like this definitely what you should look into. I think they have a few “festivals” like this, and I’d imagine they are always well worth the time and miniscule amount of admission money it takes to get in.

Missouri Town 1855

Missouri Town was a lot more freeform, and had the largest amount of re-enactors I have ever seen in a place like this. Normally, one only sees a handful of volunteers, and I’d estimate something like 50 were on-site on this day. What was especially humorous was that some of the volunteers were previously at Fort Osage, so they must have had a very busy weekend. My son especially liked the antique toy tent which had a large array of toys that children would have played with in the early nineteenth century – his personal favorite was a game called “Graces” that he immediately excelled at. It’s that game with ribbon covered hoops that you shoot at each other with long sticks. Animal feeding are care discussions were numerous, and there was seemingly always something to do. Sadly, it was INSANELY hot on the Fourth of July itself, and we were unable to endure the heat for much more than an hour and a half, and had to leave somewhat early. Nonetheless it was an awesome experience despite the heat.

Conclusion:

I feel like stuff like this is largely overlooked in most places, save for a place like Colonial Williamsburg, and I’m sure most towns with similar living history museums likely do something akin to this every year. I love seeing people in costume educating children (and adults) on what life was like in the past, and a weekend like this was packed full of those sort of opportunities. For 2023, if you are bored of the typical Fourth of July celebration, I’d recommend trying a historical site visit if they have this sort of programming. We absolutely loved it, and if you are a history buff, I’m sure you will as well!

See More:

For more content like this, check out my History Tour page HERE

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