The city of Peculiar is celebrating its sesquicentennial and 150 years of building this community residents love to call home with two days of family-friendly events and concerts by two Missouri singers who made names for themselves on national TV.
A selfie stop scavenger hunt kicks off the celebration Friday, June 22. That evening, Casi Joy, a Smithville native and contestant on NBC’s “The Voice,” will perform an acoustic concert, following a meet-and-greet with her.
On Saturday, June 23, community members will start their day with pancakes served by the Lions Club. Breakfast is followed by a 1.5 mile run/walk, parade and car show. An ice cream social, cookout, a beard and mustache contest and a concert by Tate Stevens, a Belton native and winner of Fox’s “The X Factor,” top off the entertainment agenda.
One of Missouri’s best-kept secrets, Peculiar has grown from an agrarian community of 200 in 1868 to a city of 5,800 in 2018. Between 2010 and 2018, the city grew 77 percent.
With its extensive power, water and fiber optic infrastructure, and a master plan for economic, residential and retail expansion, the city has its sights set on significant development. However, city planners and residents have also made a commitment to maintain Peculiar’s small-town feel amid this growth.
“People really care about the community here,” said Brad Ratliff, Peculiar’s city administrator. “When we were creating our five-year master plan, we held 38 public meetings.
“During the meetings, residents said they didn’t want to lose their identity and culture. We all wanted to preserve and maintain our downtown, the walkable retail and the ‘mom and pop’ shops.”
In 2015, Missouri’s Economic Development Council gave Peculiar a Creative Community Award recognizing the city’s downtown arts and culture district.
“For a lot of companies looking to relocate or expand, it’s not just the infrastructure and economic incentives they look at, but it’s also the culture of the place,” Ratliff said.
“People move here because we have, what I call, the three-legged stool. We have a great 6A school district, a safe environment, and great amenities, including parks, trails, and our downtown. We’re very proud of our community here.”
Since its founding, Peculiar has benefited from many citizens who’ve committed their time, energy and resources to the city and its residents.
Edward Schug dedicated his life to enriching the lives of his fellow Peculiar citizens.
Born in 1909, and a lifelong resident of Peculiar and Cass County, Schug worked over 50 years in the banking business while also serving as a benefactor to his community. In 1968, the city’s centennial year, he established the Peculiar Charitable Foundation.
The private family foundation provides support for citizens in the areas of health, education and culture through scholarships, library funding and more.
Schug passed away in 1998, and his daughter, Mary Dobson, has carried on her father’s spirit and tradition of service. A former teacher, Dobson is the foundation’s current president.
Dobson is also involved with Caring Hearts of Peculiar is a citizen-led group also committed to enhancing the lives of Peculiar residents, and her husband, Larry, is president of the group.
The social welfare organization contributes time and financial resources to many groups, including the Peculiar Thrift Store, the First Baptist Church of Peculiar Food Pantry, the Peculiar United Methodist Church Christmas Store, the Cass County Dental Clinic and Hope Haven.
Caring Hearts of Peculiar is also a sponsor of Stevens’ Saturday concert and will take up a free-will donation that evening to support its initiatives.
“People laugh or raise their eyebrows when I travel and tell them I’m from Peculiar,” Mary said. “The name makes them laugh. In some ways, it’s a typical small town, but there are a lot of very caring, wonderful people here. I appreciate this town and am proud to say I’m from here.”
For more information and a schedule of events, go to www.facebook.com/PeculiarSesquicentennial.
How did Peculiar get its name?
When its founders were establishing this Missouri city in the mid-19th century, one of their important tasks was to name it, in part so they could build a post office, according to Peculiar City Administrator Brad Ratliff. They created a list of names they liked and sent them off to the postmaster general, whose role was to select one.
The postmaster replied that all the names on the list had already been given to other cities, which sent the founders back to the drawing board. They compiled a second list and sent it to the postmaster with a request that, if the names on the new list were also taken, the postmaster select a name that was “peculiar.”
In his tongue-in-cheek response to their request, the postmaster chose the name Peculiar.