Edgar Springs, Missouri to Bid for National Conventions
"Heartland of America"
Phelps County  |  Meramec Regional Planning Commission

Edgar Springs, Missouri, population 190, will bid to host the 2004 Democratic and Republican National Conventions.  "We'll take either one or both," stated acting mayor Kim Wilson, outlining the town's innovative proposal.  "Edgar Springs will provide delegates with an untraditional and unforgettable convention experience," Wilson said.  "What better way for our political parties to demonstrate their commitment to middle American values than to come to a farming community in the heartland of America," Wilson said.  U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan (D-MO), a resident of Phelps County for more than four decades, lauded the initiative.

Acting mayor Wilson acknowledged that the town likely does not meet many, or indeed any, of the parties' requirements, but she said the town's leaders have come up with innovative and creative solutions to meet the needs of the thousands of delegates, alternates, and family members as well as some 15,000 media representatives.  These include establishment of a massive tent village on one of the sheep ranches in the area and provision of a fleet of up to 12,000 bicycles to allow delegates to travel in and around the area.

"For too long, the parties have held their conventions in urban settings, ignoring the vital importance of rural communities in our civic life," Wilson said.  Edgar Springs community leaders believe the national conventions have become altogether too glitzy and too staged.  Shuttling back and forth from air conditioned hotel rooms to the convention venue, making the rounds at one reception or party after another, delegates quickly lose sight of their purpose for being at the convention.  By roughing it in Edgar Springs, delegates will gain renewed appreciation for the values that make America great.  The party that chooses to site its convention in Edgar Springs will gain the edge it needs to secure the White House in 2004.

Proposed Venue:  The Lions Club Building.  This hall is used for big meetings, public hearings, and other such events.

Host Committee:  Local businesses are coordinating to develop plans to welcome delegates and media representatives.  By placing collection jars in local businesses and holding bake sales, we estimate we will be able to raise $523.72 to support these activities.

Hotels:  One of the central elements of our proposal is our plan to house delegates and media in a temporary tent village on one of the sheep ranches in the area.  Nine thousand two-man tents will be put up.  Delegates and reporters will need to bring their own sleeping bags, however.  Meals will be catered by Hot Lips Cafe.  For high muckety-mucks Rolla, 19 miles to the north, has numerous motels, hotels, bed and breakfasts and resorts.  There are also many campgrounds in the area.

Transportation:  Edgar Springs is located on old Hwy 63 between Rolla and Licking.  Rolla National Airport, 20 miles to the north, is a former WWII training base with a 5,500 foot long runway capable of serving planes with wingspans of up to 79 feet.  Working with towns and cities around Missouri, Edgar Springs will procure a fleet of 10-12,000 second-hand bicycles to facilitate travel between the tent city, the convention venue, and other area attractions.

Telecommunications:  Media will be able to file their stories using one of the several pay phones in town.

Security:  Edgar Springs has been served by the Phelps County Sheriff's Office in Rolla.  However, starting this August an officer will be detailed specifically to serve Edgar Springs.  We also hope to draw upon the expertise of the U.S. Army Military Police School at nearby Fort Leonard Wood.  Edgar Springs Fire Department Engine House Number 1 and Headquarters is located on Broadway Street.

Budget:  Including in-kind contributions, Edgar Springs' proposal adds up to about $30,000.

Edgar Springs is located in Phelps County, 125 miles southwest of St. Louis on Highway 63 between Rolla and Licking.  Edgar Springs gained national attention in April 2001, when the 2000 Census showed a point 2.8 miles east of town as the center of population of the United States >.  This is quintessential small town farming community, boasting a flashing red light, a used car lot, cemetery, car wash, beauty shop, general store, city hall, post office, water building, repair shop, a ball park, and four churches.  The 1.5 million acre Mark Twain National Forest offers hiking, camping and fishing; anglers will enjoy casting for rainbow trout and small mouth bass in Little Piney CreekFort Leonard Wood, home of the U.S. Army Chemical School, the U.S. Army Engineer School, and the U.S. Army Military Police School, is about 10 miles to the west.

ema June 2, 2002

Copyright © 2002 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.