The city held workshops for Neighborhood Tourism Development Fund grant applications. They need to have a workshop for the commissioners so they’ll know what a worthy project looks like. The Hickman Mills School District’s annual 3 Trails Day uses city funds to help defray costs. That may have been a good idea in the beginning, but no more and it shouldn’t continue to receive funds.
A bit of background: The school district was certified in 2002 by the National Park Service as being on the actual alignment of the Santa Fe, Oregon, and California Trails. It is the first, and perhaps still the only, public school district to have received that recognition. As many may know, there is a plan to physically lay the trail on the ground across the entire KC area and the school district laid the first leg. To celebrate the certification and to get the trail construction underway a groundbreaking was held complete with two oxen to literally break the ground and a group of Native American dancers who consecrated it. A number of city and state officials were present. Because of the Hispanic connection, the consulate here in town was contacted. Unfortunately, no one from there was able to attend. Everybody had a good time and it was decided that the district should continue to celebrate its heritage by hosting a 3 Trails Day every year. Not only would it be good for our community, but it could be an event that would draw ‘tourists’ from other areas of KC and the surrounding area.
The first year was great. I was on the planning committee and we really had some big ideas. In the end we decided the first year should be a bit smaller and then each year it could continue to expand until it became a two-day event. The event was held from 10-5. We had a Native American actually camp out, teepee and all, in front of Hickman Mills High School. He was a great source to provide a true history lesson for all who would listen. The area was decorated with pumpkins and hay bales. There was a hay-wagon ride and a place to have your picture taken. The gym was filled with crafters. The police department was there with their helicopter and there were several emergency vehicles for demonstrations. There was a clown and even an ‘antiques roadshow’. All in all it was a great day; but, people leave, new people take over, and the focus changes.
It wasn’t too many years before the time was shortened an hour or so until last year when it was only 11-4. This past year it didn’t even rate its own day. It was held the same day as the back to school rally. That meant there was a parade which was great because we had always talked about having a parade; however, since both functions were held at the former Hickman Mills High School, it also meant nothing could even be set up until about noon. That’s not a good way to encourage crafters unless you’re only interested in home-made jewelry or maybe soaps or candles. You’re also not going to get any re-enactors to participate.
It’s a sad commentary on the school district when they turn their backs on their African American and Hispanic heritage and turn a true celebration into a simple community day that provides a few of the usual carnival type rides for the local children. Not only has it become something of little interest for the older members of our community; but it is certainly nothing worthy of much sought after tourism funds.