An event that has become a celebration of uniqueness and forged friendships will be held in the Town of Newark, Missouri, during the weekend of October 5-6-7, 2007, that will showcase the rural lifestyle enjoyed by residents of this Northeast Missouri community.
Members of the MO-NOW committee have been working for two years preparing for the event with a number of special activities planned for delegates with Newark, Missouri as their destination during the first weekend of October.
Meg Glover, chair of the MO-NOW committee has worked with Daniel Bock, Jerry Dawson, Joan Hawkins, Ann Jones, Evelyn Johnston, Mackie Johnston, Anita Lindsey, Rita Lindsey, Mary Owens, Helen Peterson, Emilie Rumble, and Robyn Whitmire in choosing the date, securing entertainment, the design of a Special Stamp Cancellation for the event, securing of vendors, planning an antique tractor show, a non-denominational church service are just a portion of the weekend of planned events.
A history of the Newarks-of-the-World Reunion is as follows: In 1987, Newark California was embroiled in a debate about the name of their city. Many citizens felt that they did not want to be associated with Newark, New Jersey which had a bad reputation in California due to the race riots and destruction of that city.
The Mayor of Newark California (David Smith) was strongly against changing the name of the city. Apparently this issue was discussed at numerous city board meetings. Every year in September, Newark California celebrates their "Newark Days". Shirley Sisk a member of the city board and very active in many community organizations, suggested that they expand on the theme for 1987 (It’s a Small World), and invite representatives from other Newarks to come celebrate with California.
At that time, they used a book of postal zip codes and wrote to the town board of each US Newark with a zip code. They also invited England’s Newark-on-the-Trent, their sister city. They had no idea how many people would come or whether this would be a success. That year representatives from 7 US Newarks (plus California) and Newark-on-the-Trent converged on California to celebrate their Newark-ness.
The wonder of that first get-together was a realization of just how much was held in common and a celebration of the differences, including the way we pronounce the word Newark. Some, by dividing the name into two syllables (new-ark) while others say just one syllable like our friends from New Jersey. By the end of Saturday, we were like old friends or even family.
On Saturday evening, Sharpe James, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey spoke of the many common things we had found and how important he felt it was for all the Newarks to continue to meet and interact with each other. While he felt it would be difficult to meet every year, he proposed a reunion in two years in New Jersey. And from his foresight along with California’s David Smith and Shirley Sisk’s beginning idea, the Newarks-of-the-World Reunion was born.
Newarkers have gathered together every two years since that time, including during that memorable September of 2001 (Wisconsin was unable to attend during that time). The following are the places the reunion has been held: California 1987; New Jersey 1989; Vermont 1991; Ohio 1993; England 1995; Illinois 1997; Texas 1999; California 2001; Ohio 2003; and New
Besides the political, cultural, social and personal exchange, the Newarks now have student exchanges between some of the cities, support between fire and police departments and a network of "family" throughout the world. Delegates from Newark, Missouri, have unofficially hosted people from California, Illinois and England as they have been traveling through our area.
As the hosting Newark, each town has the opportunity to show off the uniqueness of their community and surrounding area. Delegates are usually offered a home stay if desired. Except for the cost of the hotel and travel, delegates are treated to an expense free stay. There is an exchange of gifts between the cities and well as many keepsakes and remembrances for each delegate.
Newark, Missouri enjoys the designation as the smallest Newark to attend, as well as serve as host this Reunion. Representatives from Missouri, Meg, Kenny and son have attended all reunions except the California 2001 event, due to illness.