Sports have been shaping our climate, culture, fashion, food, music and language for well over 150 years.
Aurora --the Home of the Houn’ Dawgs -- will be the final stop of a Midwest tour of the traveling Smithsonian exhibit called Hometown Teams from Sunday, December 9 through January 27.
Hosting this exhibit will be the Houn’ Dawg Alumni an Outreach Center, in cooperation with the Missouri Humanities Council and the Smithsonian as part of the Museum on Main Street program. Co-hosting this special event is Shawn Darst of Darst Heating and Cooling in Aurora. He is providing warehouse space for this special event at the old Coke Plant building at 118 East Church Street.
“We are thrilled to be here in Missouri and for this to be our final stop for the exhibit,” said Terri Cobb, Registrar for Museum on Main Street of the Smithsonian Institute.
Aurora was selected by the Missouri Humanities Council last year to host “Hometown Teams” as part of the Museum on Main Street program a national, state and local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations as a free service to the public.
Locally, several community partners have stepped forward to help promote and provide the needs entailed in hosting such an event. Co-directors at the local level are Kim McCully-Mobley and Brad Boettler. Additional committee members include Marcia Sadler, Michele Parbury, Jack Muench, Paul Ward, Bob Journagan, Drew McNatt, Shawn Darst and Jake McCully. Additional partners are the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Aurora, First Independent Bank, Community National Bank, Arvest Bank, Darst Heating and Cooling, Aurora Rotary, The Aurora Advertiser, Liberty Utilities/Empire District Electric, KSWM/KKBL Radio, Houn’ Dawg Sports, Pettit and Pettit Law Offices, Service Vending, Newbold and Newbold, Journagan True Value, Parkway Hardware, Hogtide Barbecue, the Youth Empowerment Project and Drury Dual Credit Leadership class in cooperation with Aurora Schools.
The exhibition has been touring six communities in Missouri from April through January. Aurora will be the final stop for the exhibit. Phil Dixon, a well-known author and historian from Kansas City, will be talking about the Kansas City Monarchs and their Aurora area connections on December 4 to help kick off the festivities. He will speak to students at Aurora High School and the noon meeting of the Aurora Rotary Club. A book-signing will be held in his honor at the Summit City Bistro from 1:30 to 3 p.m. in downtown Aurora.
The exhibit will arrive in Aurora on December 5. Guests of honor will be invited to a sneak peek from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, December 8, after the Christmas Parade. A ribbon-cutting will be held at 4 p.m. Earlier in the day, Perry Parker and Rodger Wheeler will broadcast their Houn’ Dawg Sports Talk Radio Show live from the exhibit at 9 a.m. on the KSWM Radio dial. Kenny Downing, an Aurora High School graduate who was recently inducted into the Missouri Hall of Fame, will be on hand as grand marshal for the parade. Additional events that day include Pictures with Santa from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at First Independent Bank and a community lighting ceremony on the downtown square at 6 p.m.
The schedule for the exhibit will be during designated hours on Fridays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. through the weeks that it is here. The site for the exhibit is 118 East Church Street in a facility owned by Shawn Darst.
“Darst stepped forward to offer a historic warehouse previously used by the Coca Cola Company. He has been remodeling the facility to help meet our needs and we could not be more thankful to him for his efforts,” explained McCully-Mobley, who indicated the group has received tons of community support since announcing that Aurora had been selected as an exhibit site.
“This is a great opportunity to showcase our town, its rich history, its colorful people and our determination to share, preserve, protect and promote our stories in a variety of ways,” stated McCully-Mobley.
Ironically, she said the exhibit portrays a theme of storytelling through sports, events, leaders, celebrities, underdogs, longshots and landmark events, much like what Houn’ Dawg Alumni Center committee members are doing to share and protect Aurora’s story at the old armory -- located at 409 West Locust.
The exhibit focuses on both a national and local level with over-arching themes like Sports and Culture, fan experiences, player experiences, and new sports that seem to crop up around the country. Parking will be available during the exhibit at the Arvest Bank parking lot just east of the Darst facility.
Cobb said it is a great exhibit that can appeal to anyone. “This is a fun exhibit,” Cobb said. “Everyone has a connection to sports, whether it’s taking a child to practice or cheering on your hometown team. You don’t have to play to be a part of sports, it’s part of our language and our culture and that’s what makes this so unique. It’s really an American story.”
Several additional exhibits will be on display throughout the community to help tell Aurora’s story, which often is anchored in the Houn’ Dawg history of the popular military mascot that dates back to the early 1900s. By the 1920s, the school had claimed the mascot, too. Additional highlights of local history include exhibition games by the Kansas City Monarchs, patriotic efforts during World Wars I and II and additional vintage sports items, baseball cards and celebrities who have embraced the community’s colorful history.
Groups, classes and individuals wanting to schedule private tours can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 229-2094 and leave a message.