By Air, Train, Car and Foot: Independence is Truman and More

My addiction to travel began at an early age when a family vacation led us to Independence. By car, of course. Nowadays, it is an easy place to travel alone(my personal favorite) or bring the family. Now that I live in the Show-Me State, the attraction to historic sites of my Missouri roots are all the more accessible.

Only 15 minutes from the Kansas City International Airport, Independence is within an easy flight, train ride, or drive to Bess and Harry Truman’s house from my hometown, St. Louis. Returning to Independence to explore the town of  our 33rd President, Harry S. Truman, reminds me of my dad who adopted the “S” for his own middle initial, just like Harry. And my mom’s claim to fame is that she and Bess share a birthday, Feb. 13.

Vaile Mansion, Independence
Vaile Mansion in Independence, Missouri.

While Independence is the home of Harry S. Truman, and the Truman Library and Museum, summertime features parties Harry would love:

The Vaile Mansion is the setting for the 2014 Vaile Strawberry Festival, on June 7, with more than 600 pounds of strawberries, served in shortcake, ice cream and floats. Sounds like strawberry heaven.

Independence Day in Independence is a great place to celebrate the U.S.: July 4 begins as the children’s parade steps off at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot at 23rd and Main streets, ending up on Historic Independence Square. Special treats will be available for the kids.

The evening of the Fourth of July, at 7:30 p.m., offers a free concert by George Dyer, Branson’s fabulous tenor, and his family of performers, at the Community of Christ Auditorium, 1001 W. Walnut.  At 8:30 p.m., at the LDS pageant grounds, the patriotic “Spirit of Independence” band will perform a free outdoor concert followed by the traditional fireworks display at the Mormon Visitors Center, 437 W. Walnut. Parking is limited; visitors are encouraged to arrive early with blankets or chairs to claim a spot on the lawn.

Only a week later, July 12, is the the 27th Annual Bingham-Waggoner Antique and Crafts Fair. George Caleb Bingham, the famous Missouri artist, lived at the stately Bingham-Waggoner Estate, open daily during the summer. The fair features more than 100 vendors, and includes ‘walking tacos,’ and other festival foods. Admission is free, and tours of the mansion are available throughout the day.

Bingham-Waggoner Estate in Independence, Missouri.
Bingham-Waggoner Estate in Independence, Missouri.

Best known of  western Missouri festivals, and now in its 42nd year, SantaCaliGon Days has long been the focal point of Labor Day weekend in northwest Missouri. This year, the festival runs Aug. 30-Sept. 1. SantaCaliGon is named for the three trails which began in Independence: Santa Fe, California and Oregon. Let’s not forget the Morman Trail and Lewis & Clark Trail.

The Bingham-Waggoner Estate will be the setting for the September 13 Independence Uncorked Wine Festival. Only its second year, more than 20 Missouri wineries will offer guests the opportunity to sample wines; art, music and food are part of the fun.

Learn more about Independence online at

Written by Jill Arnone from the Independence Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

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