SantaCaliGon Days is expected to attract 300,000 people over four days in Independence, MO.

SantaCaliGon Days is a great way to celebrate the bicentennial of the trails

SantaCaliGon Days

By Kady Weddle

The Independence Chamber of Commerce will again host the annual SantaCaliGon Days over the Labor Day Weekend in Historic Independence Square – between Truman and Walnut. 

The first SantaCaliGon Days Festival was held to celebrate the unique heritage of the City of Independence as the starting point of the Santa Fe, California, and Oregon Trails. A second celebration was held after WWII in 1947 and the festival was not held again until 1973. 

The festival, then called Three Trails Days, featured a beard and mustache contest, the Miss Independence pageant and a pioneer costume contest. In 1974 the festival was renamed Santa-Cali-Gon Days, a name originally penned by Velma Katschkowsky in a 1940 contest to name the festival. Over the past 47 years, the festival has evolved into one of the nation’s premier festivals, drawing more than 300,000 people.

Headline entertainment includes Little Texas, Sawyer Brown, and Shooting Star among others. Saturday performances will include Claudia’s School of Dance, Cathy’s Creative Dance, the Bumblebees Cheer and Dance Team, and Studio 3V Dance Center, with the local high school’s robotics team putting on a show Monday, the 6th. For a complete lineup of music and performances visit

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Each year VFW Post 21 honors those who have served in the military with a pinning ceremony to acknowledge them publicly for their service and sacrifice to the country. The Pinning Ceremony will be on Sunday, September 5 at 2pm. 

Other events of note include a display of a 1969 Huey Vietnam Helicopter, parked on Main between Maple and Lexington. Guests can view inside the cockpit and climb in for photo opportunities. Food contests will include a Wing Cook-Off, Ice Cream Eating and Root Beer Chugging. 

Admission to the festival is free however armbands are required to participate in carnival rides and activities. Bands can be purchased for $30 at the gate and include unlimited rides for one day.

Hours for the festival are noon to 11 pm Friday, 10 am to 11 pm Saturday and Sunday, and 10 am to 5 pm on Monday. The carnival a day earlier,  Thursday, from 5 pm to midnight. 

Please note that the SantaCaliGon Festival is following all public health guidelines as provided by the City of Independence. At this time, no restrictions (NO mask requirements) are in place for festival attendees.

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