By Melissa Curtis Deimeke
LADDONIA—“Preserving Our History and Looking Forward to Our Future Family Fun Day” is the theme for this year’s celebration at the Laddonia Ball Park Saturday, Oct. 5 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The park was founded back in 1950, and this celebration along with other events have been held here over the years since.
When people think of Laddonia, usually the first thing they think of is the ballpark. The park, along with the Fourth of July Celebration held there, have been at the heart of this small town for generations.
The location of the ballpark was established the summer of 1950. The property was formally owned by Ralf Wilder of Chicago. He was present at a January meeting at Shinn’s Drug Store. He agreed to sell the tract of land for a nominal sum, providing it would only be used for ball games and recreational facilities.
Carver Brown loaned the money to buy the land from Wilder, and at that time, the Laddonia Missouri Athletic Association was founded. The first Fourth of July Celebration was held at the ballpark in 1952. According to the “Laddonia Area 100th Anniversary Centennial” book.
Many volunteers have served on the board of LMAA over the decades. These people, who didn’t necessarily have the time, did have the heart to keep this going, and they are truly a blessing to so many, whom have enjoyed the various festivities over the years.
This next Fourth of July Celebration will be the town’s 68th. It has one of the biggest and best firework shows in Mid-Missouri. It is all choreographed to music and will rival many other city shows, all while keeping that hometown, good old-fashioned holiday celebration feel.
The current LMAA board has been writing grants to update the ballpark. The tournament held Oct. 5 gets families together for a day of outdoor events and good old fashioned family fun.
Proceeds from this tournament will be going towards the 68th Annual Fourth of July Celebration. The citizens will be celebrating their new flag and flag pole, purchased by a grant written by the MFA Oil Foundation.
After this years tournament, the town will also be tearing down the current concession stands, so it can begin construction on a new facility in memory of Mrs. Ruby Hamlett. The money to build this structure came from the Ed. French Foundation.
It’s important that organizations, such as the Laddonia Missouri Athletic Association remain operational. The memories from the events and ball games, the family fun, the community fellowship behind it, are all what make living in Audrain County wonderful.
When you ask people about Laddonia, they will mention the ballpark, fireworks, Khoury League or Little League, slow pitch softball, maybe even a frog or turtle race may come up.
Usually a smile and a memory that is theirs to treasure forever will flash across their eyes if you watch closely. So, it’s important to preserve our history. It’s meant to be remembered, but let’s also look forward to the future and how to make things better for everyone—the children and all future generations.
Friday’s schedule of events
At 8 a.m. the coed softball tournament, hosted by Joe Long, begins the day.
Also at 8 a.m. the Bounce House, sponsored by C.E Grain, will open.
At 9 a.m., several other events open. Among those are the corn trailer, sponsored by POET, Free Kiddie Car Rides, sponsored by John Hawkins, and the craft and vendor fair begins, hosted by Monica Mahany. The craft and vendor fair ends at 3 p.m.
The volleyball tournament, hosted by the Eastern Missouri Family YMCA and Josh Laird, will begin at 10 a.m.
Leon Shaw will be hosting the washer tournament, beginning at 1 p.m.
Also at 1 p.m., the free kids games start, hosted by Thing 1, and Thing 2. These games include many of the seasonal local favorites, such as “Wrap The Mummy,” “Bobbing for Donuts,” and “Apple Races.”
At 2 p.m. the “Cat In the Hat” comes to visit, bringing free kid’s pumpkin painting and a reading of “Spookley The Square Pumpkin,” sponsored by Big Gun Kettle Corn.
At 3 p.m., the cornhole tournament starts, hosted by Alisha and Wayne Glasgo.
Also at 3 p.m. there will be a “Money In The Straw” game.
From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. POET is sponsoring Kelly Stanford, who will be singing and performing under The George Rinkle Pavilion.
To top the night off, there will be a family movie night, showing “Hocus Pocus,” hosted by Jeremy Fendrick and family, and also hosted by C.E. Grain.