Hometowner returns…and brings Merle Haggard with her…

Merel Haggrad's July 16 appearance at the Crawford County Fair is creating quite a stir.

Merel Haggrad’s July 16 appearance at the Crawford County Fair is creating quite a stir.

Organic and homegrown are trends that are re-gaining popularity—especially in the summer. Cuba, Missouri’s own homegrown product Patti Donahoe is returning for the Crawford County Fair (July 13-17), and she’s bringing Country Music Hall of Famer Merle Haggard with her, which is creating excitement on two fronts.

CEO and owner of Applause! Entertainment in Nashville, Tennessee, Donahoe has made a name for herself in the entertainment world. Booking talent for fairs, colleges, and other special events is part of the job, and some of the perks involve working with legends like Haggard. During Haggard’s performance, Donahoe says she will be back stage “directing traffic.”

Patty Donahoe is coming home for the fair as many ex-hometowners do. However, she will bring Merle Haggard with her

Patty Donahoe spends a lot of time backstage producing the shows that she books.

Haggard’s appearance at this year’s fair (Friday, July 16) has created quite a stir. Calls to the Fair Board have been coming in  all over from zealous fans. Rodger Bridgeman, president of the Fair Board, recently spoke at the Cuba Chamber of Commerce meeting. “Calls have been coming in from people wanting box seats and backstage passes.” He laughed and said, “We thought about getting the cardboard and making the box seats.”

Even Donahoe in Nashville has recognized the excitement. In a recent email, Donahoe said, “I have been getting emails from all over asking about tix for Merle….”

Donahoe’s family and friends are also excited about her return to Cuba. “My dad is already counting the days even though I was just there a couple of weeks ago.”

Haggard’s recently released a new CD I Am What I Am, contains several of his own songs that are reflective in nature.  The CD debuted high on the charts with a positve reaction. A new generation is discovering the singer/songwriter’s music.

Haggard's newest CD debuted well on the charts.

Haggard’s newest CD debuted well on the charts.

At 73, Haggard is enjoying life as he tours the country. His son and wife are on stage with him, and according to a recent Country Music Times Insider Interview, “…that’s a blessing from God.”

Well, we think it’s going to be a blessing for all of when our hometowner Patti Donahoe allows us to share the talents of Merle Haggard and his family. If you don’t have your tickets yet, you can order them online or buy them at the Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center at the I-44 Overpass. Advance sale of tickets ends on July 12.

Merle Haggard Show-Rickman Auditorium

Merle Haggard Show-Rickman Auditorium  He’s the man…

Box seats or not, volunteers and the city are working hard to get Hood Park, which runs along old Rt. 66, ready for the fair and Haggard’s appearance. Viva Cuba is working on mural maintenance to have the murals looking sharp for our town’s visitors. New visitors and hometowners who are returning for the fair can pick up a mural brochure in area businesses or at the Visitor Center at the I-44 overpass. Information about other area attractions is also available.

See you at the fair.

To see photos of our murals and to read more information about the Viva Cuba Mural Project, visit the website.

For information about the Crawford County Fair, visit their website.

For information about Cuba visit the Chamber of Commerce website.

For more about the history of the Crawford County Fair read “Crawford County Fair: horse racing, arson, and  over 100 years of tradition.”

Merle Haggard

I am what I am…

Oregon artist Don Gray returns to Cuba, Missouri…

Channel 5 reporter/videographer Jim Viehman interviews Don Gray as he was paining the Civil War panels.

Channel 5 reporter/videographer Jim Viehman interviews Don Gray in 2005 as he was paining the Civil War panels.

Cuba, MO: Bullets fly; a fort explodes, scenes of heroism occur. Viva Cuba’s Civil War murals on Buchanan Street evolved daily from sketches to full-color scenes of drama and history. Artist Don Gray, who lived in California at the time, made the scenes come alive during the summer of 2005 after months of research on details of the Civil War battles.

Hundreds of locals and tourists have viewed and enjoyed the murals. Now it is time for a some maintenance.

Artist Gray returns to Cuba July 6-12 to do some maintenance/repair on the Civil War Murals. He will also renew his friendship with the Lange family who will once again provide housing for the artist. Viva Cuba members will greet Gray at the airport and bring him to Cuba.

Chip Lange, fifteen at the time, used the Viva Cuba Civil War murals as his Eagle Scout Project. Chip researched the Battle of Pilot Knob, artists, and other aspects of the murals. Chip raised over $21,000 in money and fund-raising that was matched with $15,000 by Viva Cuba to make the murals a reality. His family housed the California mural artist Don Gray while he was in town painting. To show his appreciation, Gray painted Lange into the Leasburg panel of the series.Chip is the young man with the red band on his hat.

Chip Lange of Cuba, with the red band,  was painted into this Civil War panel.

Chip Lange of Cuba, with the red band, was painted into this Civil War panel.

At the time of the painting, Chip and Gray were interviewed for Show Me St. Louis TV programs segment on Cuba’s murals. Needless to say, Chip received his Eagle Scout designation because of his extensive involvement with the mural project. He is now a college student and working toward a medical degree. Chip won’t get to re-unite with Gray on this trip as he is in London for a semester of study.

On his return to Cuba, Gray will not only be renewing friendships with the Langes, he will also be renewing and repairing some water damage on the murals. After repairs are made, he will add a varnish protection coat.

We will be posting photos and updates on the mural maintenance in the future.

Don Gray signed the mural panel at the time of the original painting.

Don Gray signed the mural panel in the summer of 2005.

Read “Civil War artist downsizes with winning results” for information on Gray’s activities since his last visit to Cuba.

History meets the future with the arrival of solar cars in Cuba “Route 66 Mural City”

The futuristic looking solar car from the University of Michigan rolled along Rt. 66 by the Truman mural

The futuristic-looking solar car from the University of Michigan rolled along Rt. 66 by the Truman mural.

Cuba, MO sometimes bills itself as the town where art meets history. On Thursday, June 24, it became the town where art and history met the future. Traveling east on Route 66, solar cars from the 20th Anniversary Tour of the Midwest 2010 American Solar Challenge rolled into Cuba, drawing interest and prompting photographs.

The cars looked like something that you might find in a Jetsons’ cartoon. But the solar teams are serious about their cars and the use of solar technology as an alternative energy source.

Starting in 1990, the race is designed to see how far solar cars can go. The American Solar Challenge is an event that fosters friendly competition and teamwork, and utilizes the sun as an energy source.

The race began on  at Broken Arrow, OK on June 20. Teams follow a 1200-mile route along Route 66 and finish in Naperville, IL on June 26. The route is broken into stages with mandatory stops along the way, where they meet with press and interact with the public.   There are international teams from Canada, Germany, and Taiwan. Rolla’s MO University of Science and Technology has a team . You can see the teams and details about their cars here. You can read technical details of the cars here.

With temperatures in the Midwest in the high 90s, drivers probably realized the true meaning of solar. The drivers’ pods are ventilated but not air conditioned.

Missouri University School of Science and Technology has a car in the contest.

Missouri University School of Science and Technology has a car in the contest. In 1940 it was Harry Truman on Route 66; today, it is cutting edge technology.

The Northwestern University's driver was probably plenty warm on this hot Missouri day.

The Northwestern University's driver was probably plenty warm on this hot Missouri day.

Winning takes a reliable car, efficient driving, and a good strategy.  The solar teams attract sponsors, develop public relations, and execute a two-year plan for their car/race. Many teams have engineers on them, but they also have business majors.

To qualify for the Solar Challenge, teams must participate in Formula Sun Grand Prix, a 3-day track race, where the most laps completed wins. It takes a skilled driver to manage the track’s tight turns. The event also gives practice to the team’s pit crew.

This car looks striking against the backdrop of the murals turn-of-the-century business scene on the mural.

This space-age looking car makes a contrast against the backdrop of the mural's turn-of-the-century business scene.

The University of Kentucky's blue car draws some attention.

The University of Kentucky's blue car draws some attention.

This car weighs 400 pounds and has a LIthium Polymer battery and a backup motor.

This car weighs 400 pounds and has a Lithium Polymer battery and a backup motor.

To see how the various teams are doing, visit the website for standings.

The Mother Road has seen a lot of sights from the Dust Bowlmigration to the Bunion Run. These distinctive cars are just another installment in its history. For a short span of time, Cuba, MO “Route 66 Mural City” had a colorful new slice of history that was a contrast against scenes of the town’s past as painted in the town’s murals.

Thanks to photographers George Reed and Joyce Stewart for the use of their photographs.

See “Preservation in Cuba, MO creates ageless beauty” to read of Harry Truman’s visit to Cuba.

Read “If this corner could talk…,” to read the Hayes Shoe Store mural called Prosperity Corner.

Crawford County Fair: horse racing, arson, and over 100 years of tradition…

This old photo from 100 years ago shows that the community has always gathered to enjoy the fair parade.

This old photo from 100 years ago shows that the community  gathered to enjoy the fair parade, which was added to the festivities in 1909.

Cuba, MO: The fair board and a host of volunteers are ramping up their efforts to make the  Crawford County Fair a success. The full schedule is on the fair’s website.

Cubans coming together for the fair has been a tradition since the fair began in 1902. Here are a few highlights from the fair’s history as found in Celebrating 150 Years: A History of Cuba, MO, which is available for purchase at the Cuba History Museum on Smith Street.

*In 1902, the fair was held in the area now known as Cox Drive. Stock was sold to finance the fair. Old certificates show a share cost $3000.

*In 1905, the fair board purchased land south of Cuba’s city limits, and this became the fair grounds. The first harvest queen was Annie Burrows of Fanning.

*In 1909, the Grand Parade was added. It began at the train depot in east Cuba and ended at the fair grounds.

*More land was purchased in 1910 for $1200, and this land became the race track and ball diamond.

*In 1912horse racing was added. It was a popular attraction.

*By the 1920s, an agricultural hall, barns, offices, and ticket booths had been added to the grounds.

 

This 1912 fair photoshows an area where the popular horse racing event might have occurred.

This 1912 fair photo shows an area where the popular horse racing event might have occurred.

*In 1930, an arsonist destroyed the buildings at the fairgrounds.  No one was ever charged, but it was thought that someone upset with how prize money was awarded committed the dastardly deed.

* In 1931, after the buildings were destroyed in 1930, the Crawford County Fair Association disbanded the fair.

*In 1936, the city bought the fairgrounds for a City Park, but the fair was still held there. The land is now owned by the Crawford County R-II School.

*From 1936 to 1945, The Cuba Business Men’s Club hosted an annual Homecoming on the fairgrounds with a fish fry and games.  This is during the time that Harry Truman visited the fair.

This 1955 fair book comes from the days when the fair was known as the Cuba Community Fair. Notice that is was billed as the 9th annual.

This 1955 fair book comes from the days when the fair was known as the Cuba Community Fair. Notice that it was billed as the ninth.

*In 1946, the Cuba Civic Club and Auxiliary became the sponsors of the Cuba Community Fair.

*In 1953, a fair board was re-established with representatives from different organizations as members. The fair was still called the Cuba Community Fair.

*In 1972, the Fair Board incorporated and changed the name to the Crawford County Fair, hoping to draw more interest from towns other than Cuba.

*In 1995, Ernie Hood donated Hood Park (built as a racehorse training facility) to the City of Cuba, with the stipulation that the Crawford County Fair Board be allowed to hold the fair there each year. At first, many townspeople were reluctant to move from the old fairgrounds to the new.

*In 1996,  the first fair was held in Hood Park, which runs parallel to Route 66 and the railroad tracks on the east end of town. The buildings have been improved and expanded, and now there is more room available for events.

*In 2010, the fair at Hood Park boasts Merle Haggard as a headliner on Friday evening.

Those fairgoers from 1912 would have enjoyed the race track at the new Hood Park. Years of beautiful belles have added the fair queen designation to their name since Annie Burrows of Fanning became the first queen. There is always the question of who will be designated queen this year.

Hot sun, dust, sometimes rain and mud, a parade, corn dogs, fish sandwiches, carnival rides, 4-H kids with their projects: it’s all part of what we have come to expect of Crawford County Fair week.

For one week “Fair Time” takes over. Organizations cancel meetings, businesses may change their hours, and the area gravitates toward the fair grounds for  visiting, entertainment, and a good time.

See you at the fair.

To read how Harry S. Truman visited the Cuba Homecoming read last year’s fair blog here.

 

Truman's visit to the Cuba Homecoming is commemorated in this Viva Cuba Mural. The 4-H organization was 100 years old when the mural was painted, so it was featured in the mural too.

Truman’s visit to the Cuba Homecoming is commemorated in this Viva Cuba Mural. The 4-H organization was 100 years old when the mural was painted, so it was featured in the mural too.

Go straight to the Calaboose…

Cuba's calaboose is still available if the city finds some hardcore criminals that need an attitude adjustment.

Cuba’s calaboose is still available if the city finds some hardcore criminals that need an attitude adjustment.

Old western movies often make mention of the calaboose. Western guys get thrown into them or bust out of them.  According to Cuba, MO’s Celebrating 150 Years: A History of Cuba, Missouri, a calaboose  is a freestanding one-room concrete block structure usually situated behind the town center, and it is used for a town jail. The word comes from a Spanish word calabozo.

A structure, standing on the corner of Southwest Main and South Prairie with the words Cuba, Missouri 1908 Jail engraved on it, seems to fit the bill for a calaboose.

Eagle Scout Verlin Boda has instrumental in perserving the history of Cuba's Calaboose.

Eagle Scout Verlin Boda was instrumental in perserving the history of Cuba’s Calaboose.

According to the history book, residents of Cuba approved the building of the calaboose in an April 1908 election. The city purchased Lot 1 of Block 20 in Cuba from George and Jane Ives for $40 to build the needed structure. W.A. Davis was the marshal when the building was built. The mayor was W.F. Mitchell. Citizens probably breathed a lot easier to have a secure lockup for the town’s desperados.

That Cuba has the calaboose in such prime condition is due to the efforts of  Boy Scout Verlin Boda, who undertook the renovation of the old jail as part of his Eagle Scout Project.

On October 4, 2004, the board of aldermen and mayor gave Boda permission to renovate the jail. Boda rescued the old building that had deteriorated because of weather, age, and lack of maintenance. He completed the project for his 2006 Eagle Scout Project for Troop 463, and it was dedicated to the city of Cuba on December 3, 2006.

The steel door on the jail was taken from the old Cuba Jail located behind Cuba’s 1934 City Hall and Firehouse on Smith Street. Today there is a sign outside the 1908 jail with information and artifacts. The Historic Preservation Commission placed a plaque on the jail indicating that it is one of Cuba’s historic buildings.

We thank Verlin Boda for his initiative in preserving and researching this colorful bit of Cuba’s history.

Eagle Scout Boda prepared this informational sign for the outside of the jail.

Eagle Scout Boda prepared this informational sign for the outside of the jail.

This prisoner seems to have hung around the old jail a little too long.

This prisoner seems to have hung around the old jail a little too long. This scene is visible through the steel door on the 1908 jail.

UPDATE:

We found that the key to the 1908 Calaboose is hanging in the mayor’s office. As you can see from this photo, it is a substantial key.

Cuba, MO 1908 Jail Key

The 1908 Calaboose jail key has survived and hangs in the mayor’s office as a framed memento of an earlier time.

The corner of S. Prairie & SW Main

 

ANOTHER UPDATE:

While doing some research in the 1944 Cuba Review newspaper on an unrelated matter, I found this article about the “modernizing” of the 1908 jail. It must have been very primitive before then. Notice that the reporter still did not recommend a stay in the local calaboose.

A stay at the modernized jail was not recommended in 1944. "Home is Best"

A stay at the modernized jail was not recommended in 1944. “…home is more desirable…,” says this reporter.

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