Boonville battle re-enactment turnout exceeds expectations, organizers say

Sunday, June 19, 2011 | 8:23 p.m. CDT; updated 10:27 a.m. CDT, Monday, June 20, 2011
Ranks of troops march to the battlefield in Boonville per the order of their commanding officers. The skirmish, which historically resulted in a Union victory with a total of 81 casualties from both sides combined, was re-created with the help of 550 re-enactors.

BOONVILLE — Thousands of spectators turned out for the 150th anniversary First Battle of Boonville festivities this weekend.

“I think it went beyond our expectations,” said Barbara Holtzclaw, one of the event’s co-chairs.

Another co-chair, Maryellen McVicker, said the turnout was very good. She said the co-chairs estimated that about 6,800 to 7,000 members of the public attended the event from Thursday through Saturday.

“We’ve had a wonderful crowd today, but … we haven’t counted the parking money yet today,” McVicker said.

Sunday's events kicked off with a period church service on the event's main stage. McVicker and Holtzclaw guessed that afternoon that over 1,000 spectators came Sunday. Holtzclaw estimated later that the final total surpassed 10,000 people.

“We had one couple that saw our billboard on Interstate 70,” Holtzclaw said. “They were from San Diego, California.”

“They were going east to Washington, D.C., saw the billboard and just pulled over,” McVicker said.

“There was a guy came in here with a road tractor yesterday," said Wiley McVicker, the veterinarian for the re-enactment horses. "(He) dropped his semi off and came in here to see it."

Holtzclaw said groups of re-enactors had come from as far away as Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Illinois and Indiana.

McVicker said there were no arrests during the event, and to her knowledge no one was injured except a man who had problems with heat stroke Saturday. McVicker said the man has since recovered.

The McVickers and Holtzclaw agreed that the night firing of the cannons was the highlight of the weekend.

“It is very spectacular,” McVicker said. “They had 21 cannons facing over the Missouri River, and they shot them off. And some of them, they had the gunpowder loaded so they shot colors … One time they shot stars … It was better than the Fourth of July.”

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