George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, Mo., celebrated its 73rd anniversary with Carver Days in July.
“Carver Days celebrates the life and successes of George Washington Carver, and it’s a celebration of the establishment of the park,” said Curtis Gregory, park ranger for Carver Monument.
Carver Monument was established in 1943 as a national park but didn’t open until 1953. The first 10 years was spent acquiring land.
“The land that was acquired was the same land that George Washington Carver grew up living and exploring in,” said Gregory.
A visitor center was built in 1960 and an addition to it was made somewhere between 2005 and 2007. The state-of-the-art expanded visitor center includes a functioning biology lab, classroom similar to what Carver attended, meeting rooms, interactive displays and exhibits for children and adults, bookstore, walking and nature trails, and much more.
Hundreds of schoolchildren from around the midwest tour also tour the monument every year.
“There is also a wall outlining the approximate location of where we think the cabin that Carver was born in,” said Gregory.
George Washington Carver was an American botanist and inventor. He was born into slavery and Carver’s reputation is based on his research into and promotion of alternative crops to cotton, such as peanuts and sweet potatoes, which also aided nutrition for farm families.
The most popular of his 44 “practical bulletins for farmers” contains 105 food recipes using peanuts.
Carver received numerous honors for his work, including the Spingarn Medal of the NAACP.
“Interesting fact about Carver Monument is that George Washington Carver was the first national park site dedicated to an African-American,” said Gregory.
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“We get a lot of traveling visitors and we get several people from the interstate that see our sign and come visit,” said Gregory.
Carver Monument, which is located about 10 minutes east of Interstate 49 and 15 minutes south of Interstate 44 in Newton County, Mo., holds several events throughout the year.
“We have 10 annual events, but our biggest event is Carver Days,” said Gregory.
Carver Days is a day of free family fun at the monument featuring guest speakers, music groups, exhibitors, guided tours, and several other activities.
“This year we held a play about the centennial of the National Park Service African-American experience,” said Gregory.
Also returning in 2016 was the Junior Ranger station where children went to different exhibitors and earned a badge.
“Carver Days brought in 800-1,200 people last year and this year we had more than that,” said Gregory.
This year, Carver Days had an emphasis on the centennial anniversary of the National Parks Service.
“The National Parks Service is celebrating its 100th year of being in business,” said Gregory.
George Washington Carver National Monument is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. every day of the week, with guided tours daily at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
“We really want people who have never visited us to come see what we have to offer,” said Gregory.