Meet My Community: Neosho

In springtime, you don’t want to miss Neosho’s Dogwood Tour.

The spectacle of pink and white blossoms Neosho residents enjoy every April can be traced back to 1946, when a Camp Fire Girls group founded by Hazel Warden began selling dogwood seedlings as a fundraising effort. The girl who sold the most seedlings became the Dogwood Queen of the year. In 1961, the local Rotary Club held the first Dogwood Tour to showcase the abundance of trees that by then had flourished and were blooming across Neosho.

Dubbed “the Flower Box City,” the southwest Missouri town is also picturesque in summer.

Photography provided by Neosho Chamber

In addition to several murals and parks in Neosho, more than sixty newly added flower baskets — part of the Neosho Chamber’s Bring Back the Bloom initiative — provide cheerful bursts of color along its historic downtown streets. Beautification efforts also include flower beds adopted by community members and renovation of the area’s “World’s Largest Flower Box” landmark.

Not only is Neosho a pretty sight, it’s bustling with commerce. Many locally owned establishments thrive there such as Sam’s Cellar, Indian Springs Brewing Company and Café Angelica, to name a few.

Currently empty venues are starting to be utilized as well, said Neosho Area Chamber Executive Director Lauri Lyerla.

“The first Friday of the month, a local group hosts a wine share downtown and invites guests into a vacant location to dream of how it could be used,” Lyerla said.

Neosho has a population of about 12,000, supported by a variety of industries ranging from manufacturing to agriculture. Five of the area’s largest employers are La-Z Boy Midwest, the Neosho School District, Crowder College, Newell Brands and Scholastic.

Neosho is also home to a spring-fed National Fish Hatchery, which farms cool and warm water fish including paddlefish, striped bass and sturgeon. Dating back to 1888, it’s the oldest federal hatchery still operating.

As for the near future, Lyerla said one of the things Neosho area residents are looking forward to is the completion of the 1-49 Connector in 2020, which will make the area more accessible and provide an easier commute.

“We are positioned to see big things happen in the next several years and it is exciting to see our community coming together to support each other,” said Lyerla.

The Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce is a member of the Missouri Chamber Federation. Learn more at mochamber.com/join/federation.

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