Laclede’s Pershing Days was Sept. 15 and featured a parade, poppy garden dedication and events for all ages.
Pershing Days honored veterans and the memories of those who fought to keep the U.S. safe.
Pershing Days kicked off Saturday with events and booths set up in downtown Laclede. Later, the annual bed races and annual parade would travel up and down Pershing Drive.
The third annual Nu-Rest Bedding bed races zoomed down Pershing Drive noon Saturday. The event featured teams pushing beds on wheels down the street, then turning back to get to the finish line in front of the store located on the corner of Pershing Drive and Vernon Street.
Event emcee and judge Garth Dougherty says he enjoys the competition.
“We love to see new contestants every year and hope to grow the competition next year,” Dougherty said.
This year four teams brought beds ready to race each other for the grand prize of $100. The reigning champs, The Pershing Zephyrs took home this year’s top prize again. The team was captained by Donna Stanley-Maxwell and her cousin John Graham. Stanley-Maxwell and Graham live in different parts of Missouri now, but their families were originally from Laclede.
The annual Pershing Day parade marched down Pershing Drive at 1 p.m. Saturday. The parade featured local first responders, the Army National Guard and floats from local businesses, residents and churches.
United Methodist Church of Laclede won first place in the float category with their replica of the newly dedicated poppy garden. Second place went to Pershing Pride 4H. In the horse category Trey Washam took first place with Abby Rollison and Jim Lane coming in behind him.
Period demonstrators were stationed next to the Gen. John J. Pershing Boyhood Home and State Historic Site office Saturday. Booths featured period correct firearms, ammunition, gear and a replica vehicle.
One group allowed attendees to try on the gear and feel what is like to wear the World War I equipment. Jacob Allen with the WWI historical group Doughboys on the Plains visited Laclede from Manhattan, Kan. Allen became interested in WWI in highschool when his grandfather gave him a WWI helmet. Since then, he has been collecting and restoring many pieces from the time period. He and three others travel to historical events around the Midwest to teach people about WWI.
According to Allen, he was happy to attend Pershing Days.
“It’s incredible to be out here and honor Gen. Pershing, who is honestly one of my biggest heroes,” Allen said.
Allen’s group can be found on Facebook by searching for Doughboys on the plains. Allen is currently a student at K State University.
An impromptu celebration was held for new additions to the wall of honor located at the state historic site. Carolyn Schrock of Harrisonville, Mo. sang the “Star Spangled Banner” for her uncle and his platoon, who served in the Vietnam War. Schrock’s uncle Mike Moddrell and the 173rd Johnson Airborne Platoon were added to the wall of honor recently.
Events continued Saturday with the dedication of the poppies ceremony. The dedication was continued from the blessing of the poppies event, which was held at the historic site this June. At the previous celebration a prayer was given over soil from WWI battlefields. Saturday, soil samples from eight WWI battlefields were added to the poppy garden.
Laclede resident Danny Curley visited the garden for the first time Saturday.
“I think the garden is very neat, there’s a lot I didn’t know about WWI,” Curley said. “I’m glad to see this garden completed.”
According to site administrator Denzil Heaney, he’s glad work is continually done to the site.
“In recent years, the Pershing Park Memorial Association’s commitment has continued with the purchase of this ground for this commemorative garden and the building that will be the home of the Pershing Museum and Leadership Archives,” Heaney said.