Railroad Park dedication in Russellville

Photo by Michelle Brooks.

To celebrate its 175th anniversary at the 9th annual Russellville Frog Leg Festival and Engine Show, the S

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President Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by Mark Rehagen, participated in the opening ceremonies and parade at the Russellville Frog Leg Festival and Engine Show Saturday.

aturday opening ceremony included the dedication of Railroad Park.

The festival planning committee donated $14,000 to the city for the caboose refurbishment.

And President Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by local re-enactor Mark Rehagen, delivered his "affectionate farewell" speech, which originally was made Feb. 11, 1861, at the Springfield, Ill., train station as Lincoln headed to his inauguration.

Many community members have been involved with the fundraising and organizing efforts, including Jim and Eve Campbell who were recognized by both the city and the committee with plaques.

Sarah Stillfield led the Pledge of Allegiance and organized the opening ceremony. Amanda Hammann sang the "Star-spangled Banner." Mayor Ritchie Jenkins gave a welcome.

And Sister Mary Rost from St. Michael's Catholic Church led an invocation, which was lauded by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (Mo.).

"I'm impressed and admire you started the day with prayer," Luetkemeyer said.

Mark Weber shared a brief history of the town, beginning with the wagon train from Tennessee with the first settlers and through the hey-day of the railroad.

Before heading from uptown to City Park for the rest of the day's festivities, many visitors stopped for cupcakes at City Hall.

Among those visitors was Linda Blank, who brought her mother Mattie Blank back to her hometown from their home in St. Joseph.

"I have very good memories of here; all of my family is from here," Linda Blank said. "It's the country life."

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