As I am sure is true for any place in which one spends most of their life, they are bound to grow tired of it and believe it has nothing new to offer them. Having been born a Missourian, I’ve lived the last 19 years of my life right in the center of the country. While the Midwest certainly has its appeal, I can’t help but feel that I’ve missed out on some things. Until a few months ago, I had only seen the ocean once! Recently, as someone who has diagnosed themselves with a severe case of wanderlust, I feel that I have exaggerated being born a Midwesterner into some sort of cruel punishment. However, I am finding myself coming more and more to terms with the idea that we always seem to want to be somewhere we are not.
This summer, I spent two weeks in New York; my first time venturing east of the Midwestern states. Upon returning home for the Autumn semester, I found myself in a state of constantly wishing that I was back or were travelling to a new place, bored of the all too familiar sights and experiences that surrounded me at every turn here. One weekend, my mom asked if I would like to accompany her and my stepdad to the Missouri Town Fall Festival. I’ll have to admit that the idea of a period Midwestern town sounded even less exciting to me than a modern one. However, living on campus at university doesn’t offer very many occasions to spend time with my family, so I thought that it sounded like a nice weekend trip.
What I experienced actually exceeded my expectations. Missouri Town is located within Fleming Park in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and is essentially described as a “living history” museum; all of the structures, furnishings, tools and equipment used date from 1820-1860. Ignoring the visitors that were dressed in modern attire, (the historical interpreters as well as some of the more hardcore visitors were clad in period costume) it is quite literally like taking a step back through time. It felt a bit like something out of Doctor Who. I found myself becoming quite fascinated by having such a personal and immersive view of what life was like in a small community miles from where I grew up, but 150 years prior. It illustrated, for me, an interesting portrait of how vastly life can change in such a short span of time. In some cases, it was exciting to look upon scenes such as the ones I have captured here; to get lost in exploring and imagining yourself back in that time. It was one thing to read about life in the 19th century, but to feel as though I was coming as close as I possibly could to experiencing it is something entirely other, and that is exactly what Missouri Town offered.
One of my favorite things about wandering around this bustling community was having the opportunity to see so many people who have devoted much of their lives to practicing arts as they were done traditionally. There were a multitude of volunteers scattered around the town that were sharing stories, teaching traditional dance and playing instruments, all in a style and manner that would have been commonplace in 1855. I admired their strong passion to teach and provoke interest in the period. I feel that having this experience has allowed me to gather not only a greater appreciation for local history, but for Missouri as well. I feel that I have broadened my perspective and have come to recognize everything else that Missouri has to offer; to see it for what it truly is: a unique state with unique people and countless hidden gems just like this one.
If you are interested in visiting Missouri Town, you can find more information about it here. Let me know what you think!