By Robin Fjelstad
NEOSHO, Mo. —
The 53rd annual Dogwood Tour will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday in Neosho.
The tour will begin at the north side of Neosho High School where the Neosho Rotary Club will be set up to provide refreshments and maps of the tour route. This self-guided, driving tour takes people throughout the city of Neosho where they can best see the dogwood trees in bloom.
The Rotary Club will be providing the additional service of giving a guided bus tour for residents of two area senior care centers this year, said Mike Mitchell, dogwood tour committee chairman.
The recent severe weather highlights the difficulty of scheduling an annual event such as this.
“Timing is by far the largest challenge,” said Mitchell. “Dogwood trees bloom for only 10 to 14 days.”
Scheduling the tour to optimize the viewing experience for the 200 to 300 annual visitors is the chief goal of the Neosho Rotary Club dogwood tour committee.
Many area trees have been lost in recent years because of ice storms and last summer’s drought. At one time the annual tour covered an extended Newton County area, but in recent years the route has been reduced to streets within the city of Neosho.
Part of this year’s event includes the planting of 15 new trees along the tour route by the Rotary Club and a local chapter of Teen Challenge.
Visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy a break along their route as the Neosho National Fish Hatchery will be holding its annual open house to coincide with the Dogwood Tour again this year. Refreshments will be served in the morning and friends of the hatchery will serve hot dogs at noon. Live music will be performed throughout the day along with a variety of exhibitors, including representatives from the George Washington Carver National Monument, bee keepers, herbalists and a reptile handler.
“We have this park-like environment — perfect for families — and the day should be wonderful,” said Dave Hendricks, director of the Neosho National Fish Hatchery. “We welcome the community to come out and enjoy their hatchery, take a tour, feed the fish and get updates on what has been going on.”
The Missouri Department of Conservation will be giving away free trees to visitors at the hatchery.
“We have about 1,800 trees of seven different varieties to give out,” said Terry Cook, forestry technician with the conservation department. “The dogwood trees we have are the white blooming variety, which are native to Missouri.”
Visitors should remember to bring their cameras. There will be ample opportunities for taking amazing photographs, both during the tour and at the hatchery.
Don’t forget to document those great family moments when you are planting your very own trees after you get home.
The forecast for Sunday is for mild temperatures, with no rain expected.
Robin Fjelstad is a communications major at Missouri Southern State University. She is a recipient of the Rebekah Hughes Scholarship and an intern for The Joplin Globe.