Remembering the camaraderie of 100 years ago

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Purdy prepares for 8th annual Purdy Festival

On the third Saturday of July, for eight years, people have come together to enjoy a day in Purdy.

State Highway C is blocked off for hours while people enjoy food, activities and fellowship at the annual Purdy Festival.

Renae Neill, one of the Purdy Festival organizers, said she has been a part of the festival since it started.

“There were some teachers in the school who remembered back in the old days when Purdy used to do something like this, and they said we should do it again,” she said. “July has become this big community involved event [with the festival and Fourth of July happening].”

Neill said the cornerstone of the festival is that it provides free rides and inflatables for the children. There is a petting zoo, trackless train, car show, veterans reception area and a craft show.

Neill said for the children, all the rides are free. There is a bathtub race, and at the end of the event, the fire department soaks everyone with water.

“I just love the buzz and getting people together for fellowship and a sense of community,” she said.

Neill said she was recently given an article out of the Cassville Republican from 100 years ago.

“It is amazing to see the spirit of community, and I love to see the generosity of the people of Purdy from 100 years ago,” she said. “That spirit is still live today in this event. We have free rides for children to enjoy, and it is all possible by the people of Purdy who help fund the event and the donations from the community.”

In an issue of the Cassville Republican dated July 3, 1919, an ad for the Purdy Reunion Fourth of July Celebration was printed on the front page. A homecoming welcome to the soldiers and sailors was scheduled for July 3-5, 1919.

On July 10, 1919, an article raving about the reunion’s success was printed.

“The Purdy Reunion and Fourth of July Celebration held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, in the beautiful grove just south of town was a big success,” the article said. “The crowds far excelled all expectations. The crowd Friday was estimated at 4,000-5,000 people. For a few hours during the day, it was estimated that 250 automobiles were parked on the grounds.

“The principle attraction Thursday was the airplane flights. Friday was the soldiers’ and sailors’ homecoming welcomes. The feature of the program Friday was the drill by the soldiers and sailors in uniform, and a pageant given by the citizens of Purdy.”

Neill said it was interesting to see how 100 years ago, the people and community of Purdy came together every year for a similar event.

“The weather was fine, the grounds delightful, order perfect, and added to this is the well-known generosity of the people of Purdy, making the occasion one of the most pleasant of the summer,” the article said. “The soldiers and sailors appreciated greatly the courtesies extended by the citizens and Purdy and all who attended the reunion enjoyed themselves and want to go back again.”

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