Missouri Main Street Connection Inc. (MMSC) partnered with the Missouri Humanities Council and the National Endowment for Humanities through ARPA in awarding $5,000 grants to 12 selected communities through a competitive process to fund projects focused on strengthening heritage and cultural tourism in rural Missouri. The grant helped each community implement a project and market itself to prospective visitors. These heritage tourism projects gave added value to the economies in each community through a range of projects from murals to walking tours to new monuments and building plaques that all highlight each respective community’s history for residents and visitors. One of the Marketing Heritage and Cultural Tourism grants was awarded to Canton Main Street Association in March of 2022 with the project being completed in October of 2022.
Canton Main Street is the Main Street program for Canton, Missouri, which is a community of almost 3,000 people (as of the 2020 census). They received a Community Master Plan from Missouri Main Street Connection in 2021 after working to develop the plan with the Canton Main Street Association, City of Canton, and community partners. A part of this master plan was a wayfinding community gateway monument that captured the iconic imagery of the community and would be clearly visible from highway 61, because their current signage wasn’t effectively drawing in visitors. The concept for the new community gateway monument included a large “C” that would measure approximately 14 feet high by 16 feet wide at the top of a core-ten steel sculptural component composed of two-dimensional images of natural elements of the Mississippi River, especially pelicans, which is exotic for the Midwest but an identified icon in the city’s branding.
Implementing a gateway monument of this scale is beneficial as it attracts traveler’s attention and is the visual beginning of the storytelling elements Canton Main Street Association has for their district that convey its history and heritage which has been shaped by the Mississippi River. Being on the Mississippi, with its rich diversity of wildlife that can be enjoyed, has led Canton to be the spot for unique river camping, river walks, bird watching, Blue Catfish fishing tournaments, and a downtown river community to explore. Though it is costly, Canton Main Street Association utilized the Marketing Heritage and Cultural Tourism grant to begin the process of actualizing their gateway concept through getting preliminary technical engineering designs created and applying for permits and permission work with the city.
The Canton Main Street Association board and volunteers have worked diligently over the grant period to designate a location, secure necessary permits and permissions from the city and other entities like the Missouri Department of Transportation, and work with an engineering company to complete the technical engineering study. They are now beginning to raise funds that will pay for the installation of the gateway monument through local campaigns. If you would like to support the Main Street Canton Association with the last stage of this project funding and installation contact them on their Facebook page.
Missouri Main Street Connection awarded the Marketing Heritage & Cultural Tourism Grants in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council and the National Endowment for Humanities through the American Rescue Plan Act.