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Missouri now has official week to honor fox trotter state horse

Other designations, like Gateway Arch as official state monument, signed into law as well

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — As the bill says, Missouri’s fox trotter horse is “beloved by cowboys and ranchers” — and the equines will now have a full week in their honor. 

Gov. Mike Parson signed SB 72 Tuesday solidifying a bevy of designations in state statute. But included in Sen. Karla Eslinger’s bill is one recognition that was of particular importance to her during her first term in the upper chamber: “Missouri Fox Trotter Week” during the first full week in September. 

“I’m very pleased that Gov. Parson signed this legislation which will help further promote the fox trotter, our state horse, which we have a proud heritage and originated in Douglas County,” Eslinger told The Missouri Times. “This bill will help advance tourism and economic development for the Douglas County region as the newly-created Fox Trotter Week coincides with the annual Fox Trotter World Show and Celebration held in Ava.” 

A breed that originated in the Ozarks, the fox trotter horse became Missouri’s official state horse in 2002. People from all over the country descend on Ava in September, doubling the city in size, for the Fox Trotter World Championship. 

Sen. Karla Eslinger and Rep. Travis Smith pose along with Gov. Mike Parson as he signs a bill designating the first full week of September “Missouri Fox Trotter Week” into law. (PROVIDED)

Additionally, Eslinger’s bill designates the Gateway Arch as the official state monument. 

Aside from the Fox Trotter Week, the bill also makes a number of other designations around the state: 

  • Iron Curtain Speech Day: March 5
  • Pioneering Black Women’s Day: March 26 
  • Limb Loss Awareness Month: April 
  • Law Enforcement Appreciation Day: first Friday in May
  • Walthall Moore Day: May 1 
  • Random Acts of Kindess Day: August 21
  • Hazel Erby Day: Sept. 22, 2021 
  • John Jordan ‘Buck’ O’Neil Day: November 30 
  • Mark Twain Day: November 30 

“Pioneering Black Women’s Day” is an homage to Gwen B. Giles, the first Black woman to serve in the Missouri Senate. Giles, who had a storied career in Missouri Democratic politics, died in 1986. 

Rep. Shamed Dogan was behind the provision naming a day after Erby, a former venerable St. Louis County councilwoman. Erby, the first Black woman to serve on the council, died earlier this month

“During the week that former St. Louis County Councilwoman Hazel Erby will be laid to rest, the state of Missouri is recognizing her tremendous accomplishments by making Sept. 22, 2021, ‘Hazel Erby Day.’ I am honored that Hazel’s family was able to join us in Jefferson City to see the bill signed into law by the governor,” Dogan said. “May she rest in peace and may her legacy of public service be an inspiration to all Missourians.”

Rep. Rasheen Aldridge said the month dedicated to limb loss awareness has been in the works for the past two years. 

“As someone who has suffered from a loss of a limb since birth, I know firsthand the emotional and physical burdens individuals go through as well as the financial cost to be able to afford essential health care items like prosthetics or in-home care workers that help people get by on a day-to-day basis,” Aldridge said. “This bill is more significant than just awareness for individuals who have lost a limb; it’s about starting conversations and how we make health care more accessible for a disabled community.” 

SB 72 made it across the finish line during the final week of session with a unanimous vote in the Senate and a near-unanimous vote in the House.