Sikeston Post 114 celebrates its 70th annual Cotton Festival

Sikeston, MO

National Vice Commander Paul Sanford of Kansas enjoys a ride on the back of an Army jeep with a .50-caliber machine gun shooting blanks. This was the 70th annual Cotton Carnival and Parade sponsored by Henry Meldrum Post 114 of Sikeston, Mo. Legionnaires have annually gone out of their way to present a large community festival. The carnival features the normal carnival rides for adults and kids. Another one of the highlights is the Legion's "Fish Trailer," where fish sandwiches are the order of the day; or they might visit the SAL trailer for their famous wings, or the Auxiliary tent. The annual parade brings out the entire community of 17,870, plus visitors from the surrounding area. The parade route is about 1 and 1/2 miles long, but due to the large number of floats and high school bands (12 usually), it takes about 3 hours to complete the parade. On Thursdays, the post brings in the residents from the local veterans home for free food and entertainment. This is another highlight of the yearly Missouri American Legion calendar, as the department commander and many other department officers make the trip to the "bootheel" each September. It is a work of love for the American Legion Family at Post 114, and with the help of local law enforcement, politicians, etc., it is a huge success that is looked forward to each year. Closing the long week and the carnival, a Cotton Queen and her escorts are judged by a unnamed set of judges; for the 70th Carnival, there were 27 contestants (high school seniors).

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