(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
The First Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo was conducted in 1952 at the VFW ballpark. The group had such little money they had to pass around the hat to rent chutes.
It's interesting facts like these that will be depicted on the 12 by 24-foot mural currently being created on the east wall of the Craftmasters' KidSMART warehouse located on the corner of Scott and West Center streets.
Once completed, the educational mural will be a time line collage of pictures starting with the 50th anniversary of the rodeo and dating back to the Mound Builders Indians, who inhabited the ridge area before the settlers arrived but left in the 1700s. The mural will include the Harvey Parks Airport Base which trained 7,000 cadets. It was one of the first civilian training air bases in the U.S. which was unique for the area in 1940.
Also part of the mural will be pictorials of cotton farming, one of Sikeston's major cash crops, and the 1968 fire that destroyed the First United Methodist Church.
There's also the International Shoe Factory which supplied boots for U.S. Army contacts. The list goes on and on.
Responsible for coming up with a creation that will present the foundation on which Sikeston was built is Michael McClure of Willow Springs who is doing a residency in Sikeston from July 22 to Aug. 2. He will work with adults and youths from the community on the project.
Terri Matthews, Sikeston Missouri Arts administrator, discovered McClure from a Missouri Arts Council publication which lists state artists.
After speaking with McClure and looking at his web site, www.michaelmcclure.com, she presented his work to the SMARTS board. Members then agreed the mural would be a positive cultural experience for the community.
"One of the goals of SMARTS is to do long-term planning that will help our arts council to continually promote different, diversified arts in our community," Matthews explained. "With the help of Nancy and Roger Craft, owners of Craftmasters, SMARTS is able to start the process of a time line mural for Sikeston which is very exciting for the community. Marilyn Grant, historian and member of the Sikeston Depot Board, has been a wonderful resource for SMARTS to help make the plan and get the reference material to Michael."
Matthews explained SMARTS will depend on corporate fund raising to complete the entire series.
The project, she said, has become a community effort, with Pratt Construction donating the needed scaffolding and House of Color donating the base coat.
Other people helping McClure with the mural are Amanda Robertson, Jan Robertson, Linda Melkersman and Ed Cowan.
As problems arise, Matthews noted residents are willing to help such as when the scaffolding needed to be moved and Mike McReynolds donated wheels to make it possible. Tents were provided by Phil Boyer and David Crader.
"The mural will be finished in time for the Redneck Barbecue and for Lunch with the Rodeo Clowns," Matthews pointed out. "Many more people will have the opportunity to enjoy it in the up and coming Cotton Festival of the Arts on September 21.
"Michael will be painting on the mural after 6 p.m. Monday through Friday every week, weathering permitting, until it's completed if anyone would like to come and see the art process, it will be a treat. I'm really excited about the mural. This is just what our community needs, something to help make a visually stimulating town."
Businesses or individuals interested in becoming sponsors are asked to call 471-3888 for more information.