History Comes to Life in Kirksville at the Red, White and Blue Festival

Would you like to meet Jesse Kirk, the man Kirksville is named after or perhaps Nancy Sloan Miller, the first pioneer woman born in Adair County?   Maybe you want to meet Corporal Harvey Dix, a young Union soldier killed in Kirksville during the Civil War or Private John Kent, a Confederate Soldier captured and killed in the Civil War Battle of Kirksville.  You can meet these characters and more at Kirksville’s Cemetery Theater.


Many of the pioneers and local historic figures are buried in Forest Llewellyn Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in Kirksville beginning in 1845. A part of our Red, White and Blue July 4th Festival, we have an annual cemetery theater.  In essence, we research the actual historic figures buried in Forest Llewelyn Cemetery, the city’s oldest cemetery.   We write scripts and the actors of our local Curtain Call Theater stand near the grave of the pioneer and perform a vignette.  Usually, this is a monologue or dialogue of 6-8 minutes in length.  Often a wife and husband or a father and son perform a dialogue.  The audience actually strolls from scene to scene escorted by volunteer ushers that lead them from one vignette to the next.

Cemetery Theater
Cemetery Theater brings Kirksville history to life.

Cemetery Theater is an entertaining way to sample local history.  This year’s Cemetery Theater is the kick-off event of the 10th Annual Red, White and Blue Festival which begins on Thursday, July 3, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. and includes three days of fun.

Friday, July 4th begins with a Firecracker 5K run and 1K walk at 7 a.m. followed at 9:30 a.m. by the July 4th parade.  There is a Splash Bash at the Kirksville Aquatic Center in the afternoon.   The Community Band performs and  honors Veterans. The annual Apple Pie Contest and pie auction begins at 5 p.m. on the court house lawn in downtown Kirksville along with a free “Summer on the Square” concert.   A huge Fireworks Display begins at 9:30 p.m.

Get up early on Saturday, July 5th for the Joint Service Club Pancake Breakfast and Kirksville Farmer’s Market.  Peddle to the pancake breakfast as part of the Hilliest FLATS (Forest Lake Area Trail System) Ride Ever.

We invite you to an all-American, history loving, July 4th in Kirksville. Visit our website for more details.

Written by Debi Boughton, the tourism director for Kirksville.

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