Labor Day Weekend festival takes over the Independence Square area.
The Santa-Cali-Gon Days Festival is quickly approaching. For lifelong Independence residents mentioning the festival brings back fond memories.
The first Santa-Cali-Gon Days Festival was held in 1940. The festival was originally designed to celebrate the rich frontier history that Independence possessed. Local men grew beards for the occasion, while women dressed in 1800s clothing. The “Queen City of the Trails” commemorated the Santa Fe, California, and Oregon trails, all of which passed through Independence during the 1800s.
A second celebration was held after World War II in 1947. The event would not be held again until 1973. The 1973 festival, called Three Trails Days, was held on the Historic Independence Square, a site chosen to exhibit results of the Square’s Urban Renewal project.
The 1973 festival hosted about 50,000 attendees. In 1974 the festival was renamed Santa-Cali-Gon Days, a name originally penned by Velma Katschkowsky in a 1940 contest to name the festival.
The 1974 festival was bigger and better than the Three Trails Days, with almost three times as many booth holders and more festivities devoted to the city’s pioneer past.
The festival featured a beard and mustache contest, the Miss Independence pageant and a pioneer costume contest. In 35 years the Santa-Cali-Gon Days Festival has evolved into one of the nation’s premier festivals, drawing more than 225,000 people each year.
Join us as we celebrate the “Queen City of the Trails” past present and future at the Santa-Cali-Gon Days Festival Aug. 29-Sept. 1. It’s more than just a festival, its memories that will last a lifetime.
Here are a few highlights:
- Free live country music performances – free admission to all performances. Artists Liverpool, Adam Gregory, Rhett Akins, The Road Hammers, Lorrie Morgan, Silver Bullet Band, and The Edge of Forever will perform on the Main Stage.
- The CommunityAmerica Credit Union Community Stage will feature local performance groups and contests for kids.
- Eight giant market vendor tents – the Santa-Cali-Gon Days Festival market vendor show has consistently ranked among the top 10 in the country by Sunshine Artist Magazine. Santa-Cali-Gon features eight giant shopping tents, filled with more than 400 vendors selling various items. Admission is free.
- Huge carnival midway – presented by Wade Shows, the Santa-Cali-Gon Days Festival carnival features traditional carnival rides, and larger ones such as the Himalaya and Spin-Out. The carnival is family priced. Coupons can be found at www.santacaligon.com or at the Chamber office.
- Food – A large variety of food, from kettle corn to shishkabobs, barbecue, ice cream and turkey legs are available.
- Admission: All Santa-Cali-Gon Days activities except for the carnival rides are FREE.
- Dates: Friday, Aug. 29, Noon – 11 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 30, 10 a.m. – 11 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 31, 10 a.m. – 11 p.m., Monday, Sept. 1, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
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- Location: The Santa-Cali-Gon Days Festival covers 11 city blocks of the Historic Independence Square, from Osage to Memorial Drive, between Truman and Walnut streets.
- Parking: Parking close to the festival grounds is limited. Free U.S. Bank shuttle service is available from satellite parking lots at William Chrisman High School, 1223 N Noland Road, and the Community of Christ Auditorium, 1001 W. Walnut Street.
- Restrictions: For the convenience of all festival goers, pets are not allowed in the festival grounds. No Firearms.
- Souvenirs: Limited edition, 2008 Santa-Cali-Gon Day Festival T-shirts and buttons are available for purchase at the festival information booth, at the corner of Main and Maple streets.
For more information: Visit www.santacaligon.com or call the Independence Chamber of Commerce at 816-252-4745.