EDITORIAL: Marian Days, Emancipation Days offer a chance to connect with others

·2 min read

Aug. 5—Two events scheduled this weekend in Southwest Missouri are rooted deeply in history, culture and human connection.

The first on the calendar is Marian Days, one of the biggest pilgrimages of Vietnamese Catholics. It is held at Carthage's Congregation of the Mother of the Redeemer, which was established in 1975 by Catholic priests and fathers who had escaped the fall of South Vietnam.

It began Thursday.

The first Marian Days was held in 1978, and in the decades since then, it has ballooned into a massive event, drawing tens of thousands of people to the city each August.

There is plenty to do and see at Marian Days, even if you are neither Vietnamese nor Catholic. Duck into one of the many food tents for a taste of authentic Vietnamese cuisine, such as pho (noodle soup with herbs and your choice of meat), bun (like pho, but without the broth), banh mi (a meaty sandwich) and boba drinks (with or without the boba, which are marble-sized tapioca pearls).

You can also check out the vendor stands, talk to any number of people from across the country or attend the highlight of the Marian Days: the remarkable procession of the statue of Our Lady of Fátima and a Mass in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The procession starts at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, and the Mass starts soon afterward.

The other event is the Joplin Park Days Freedom Festival, an annual celebration in Ewert Park to honor African American freedom and achievement and promote cultural diversity and respect for all cultures. It's similar to Juneteenth, the holiday that marks when word of emancipation came to enslaved peoples.

Events begin at 7 p.m. tonight.

This year's festival will include gospel performances, a dominoes tournament, a car show, a kids' market, food trucks, vendors and even a cooling tent, just in case it gets too hot. Go to enjoy these activities and connect yourself with the long history of celebrating Black freedom in Joplin.

Make plans now to attend one or both of these community events to meet new people, learn about the past and celebrate the present.