Hickman students celebrate Kewpie's 100th anniversary

Thursday, April 23, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — To celebrate the centennial of the Kewpie doll, more than 30 Hickman High School students will perform in a celebration Saturday at their school mascot's home, Bonniebrook.

Vocalists will sing “My Kewpie Doll” and the school’s fight song among others, said Tranna Foley, Hickman's library media specialist. A string quartet also plans to perform, and students from the theater department will read some of Kewpie creator Rose O’Neill’s poetry as well as their own. In addition, the Kewpie mascot will be available to take pictures with visitors.

Kewpiesta Open House

When: 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Bonniebrook, in Walnut Shade, nine miles north of Branson

Other times to visit: From April 1 to Nov. 30 of every year; from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays

For information: Call (800) KEWPIES, or e-mail

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"This is the first year the Hickman Kewpies have attended the Bonniebrook open house, so we are very excited," said Susan Scott, president of the Bonniebrook Historical Society.

Hickman adopted the Kewpie as its mascot in 1914, when a student reporter of the "Cresset," the school yearbook, dedicated the Kewpie to a football team whose members kept smiling while they were losing to a much bigger team, said Greg Grupe, assistant principal at Hickman.  

Foley said the school plans to celebrate throughout the year. "Sometime in the fall, we plan to have a Rose O'Neill art show, where the people from the Bonniebrook Historical Society bring her artwork up here, and maybe have student artwork, too," Foley said. "We will continue to sell the Kewpie centennial T-shirts, too." 

Along with the Hickman Kewpies, Kewpie fans from all over the world are celebrating the 100th anniversary of O’Neill’s drawing of the doll, which first appeared in print in Ladies' Home Journal in December 1909, Scott said.                         

The International Rose O'Neill Club Foundation began “Rose O’Neill Week” in 1967. The celebration became “Kewpiesta” in 1968 and is held annually in late April in Branson, south of Bonniebrook, O'Neill's childhood homestead.

This year’s theme is “The 100th Anniversary of the Kewpie in Print,” Scott said. Kewpiesta, which began Wednesday and runs through Sunday at the Ramada Inn Conference Center in Branson, will include a trade show to sell O’Neill’s work, an auction and meetings.

Kewpiesta also includes a free open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Bonniebrook, Scott said. Organized by the Bonniebrook Historical Society, a nonprofit organization that maintains the estate and tells O'Neill's story, the open house will include tours of the house and museum, exhibits, refreshments and live entertainment, including Stringfield, using hammered dulcimers, a fiddle and a guitar, Scott said.

“It is a very popular event,” said Scott, who is expecting about 500 visitors. “I think we need to all remember people like Rose O’Neill, who made a difference in our lives. She used her art to tell the story of humanity, and the Kewpie’s identity is a total reflection of O’Neill.”

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