Local legends, folklore sought for roadside marker program


Communities in Missouri have an opportunity to put their town or city’s folklore in the spotlight this bicentennial year. 

Grants for the Legends & Lore Roadside Marker program is funded fully by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, which established the program to promote cultural tourism and celebrate legends and folklore as part of local and state heritage. Missouri is one of 11 states eligible to receive the grant. 

The Missouri Folks Arts Program at the University of Missouri is the state’s organizer for the grant and invites communities across the state to participate. 

“We are excited to join colleagues across the country as a Legends & Lore state partner – and to be the first to represent the Midwest,” says Lisa L. Higgins, director of the Missouri Folk Arts Program. “Missouri’s bicentennial year is an inspiring time and we hope Legends & Lore will encourage local communities to mark the Show-Me state’s unique culture in an enduring way.” 

Applications are being accepted now through May 3 for the first of two application periods in 2021. 

The Pomeroy Foundation has funded over 70 Legends & Lore roadside markers to commemorate endearing local stories. One of those markers celebrates Ichabod Crane and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” It’s said that this famous Washington Irving character was based on a real schoolteacher named Jesse Merwin in Kinderhook, New York. Another example is a Legends & Lore marker located Talcott, West Virginia, recognizing the folk hero John Henry and the famed story of his race against a steam drill.  

“Missouri has many legends of our own – from Momo the Missouri Monster who was “seen” along the Mississippi River in St. Charles County to The Spooklight sometimes visible on a country road at the edge of Missouri and Oklahoma,” Higgins said. “Generally speaking, folklore is the stories, customs, traditions and expressive arts and crafts that are passed on from one person to another and often generation to generation. We’re excited about this opportunity and hope communities across the state will apply for the grant.” 

For more information on the Legends & Lore Marker Grant Program visit https://www.wgpfoundation.org/history/legends-lore/ or contact the Missouri Folk Arts Program 573-882-6296. 

Missouri Folks Arts Legends and Lore Program logo