Seymour has a long history of being known as the “City Of Flowers” that dates back more than 90 years.
Seymour historian Helen Lamb provided a large scrap-book filled with newspaper articles, announcements, cards and other items that illustrate the importance of the flowers in Seymour through the decades.
The Kansas City Times carried an article in its Aug. 23, 1928, edition in which it reported, “Citizens of Seymour are jubilant for Seymour has just won the title ‘The Cleanest and Most Beautiful Town of the Ozarks’ by the Ozark Playground Association. Seymour had taken second place in the competition in 1927 and then advanced to receive first place the next year.”
According to news clippings from the Webster County Citizen, Seymour’s garden club became a certified member of the Federal Garden Clubs of Missouri on May 19, 1948.
For many years after that, the Seymour Garden Club was an active organization that met regularly and promoted the beautification of Seymour. One 1948 article mentioned that the garden club “will make extensive plans to beautify public grounds and to take part in a flower show in Mountain Grove on May 19.”
It went on to state that a flower show also will be held in Seymour in September of that year. The Seymour Garden Club sponsored the flower show and created three classes of entries, with three prizes to be awarded in each class.
The Seymour Garden Club apparently was a significant entity in the city by 1949. The Seymour Chamber of Commerce was also involved in education of beautification, as evidenced by the fact that it brought in “Miss Madonna Fitzgerald, home extension specialist of the University of Missouri to give an illustrated talk on landscaping.”
The Seymour Garden Club continued on its mission to beautify Seymour well into the next decade.
Archived newspaper clippings indicated a very active garden club that sponsored a city-wide window flower-box display. Mrs. F. W. Search, president of the garden club at that time, was quoted as saying, “The committee will work out the details in an effort to make Seymour one of the most talked about spots in Missouri in 1956.”
The club held classes and lectures about flower box plants and care.
Members spent time during a designated weekend to plant flowers in urns at each corner of the city square. Merchants were requested to see that those flowers were watered regularly.
Seymour continued to gain notice with its 1957 See More Of Seymour Flower Festival held in June of that year. The festival was complete with a parade of Flower Queen candidates and a parade of little Princesses and Prince Charmings.
Miss Patti Halbert (now Patti Penny) was chosen and crowned Queen of Seymour Garden Club’s first annual festival. Karen Binley was chosen as Little Princess, and Ricky Carter was Prince Charming.
Just two years later, Seymour was home to its first African violet show. Registrations showed that 84 people visited the show. Flowers were definitely a focus of residents and visitors to the town.
A meeting of the Seymour Garden Club turned into a civic-minded campaign to truly make Seymour “The City OfFlowers” in 1960. The garden club urged “business places, as well as residents, to put their best foot forward and really show out of town visitors what a community can do when all residents cooperate in a beautification project.”
It encouraged “colorful flower boxes at the entrances of business places, blooming plants in the urns at each corner of the city park, plus flower boxes or porch boxes, well-kept lawns ...”
The City Of Flowers continued gaining recognition well into the 1960s.
In 1963, the town with a population of 1,200 was holding teenage cleanup days in which 150 teens actively participated in raising funds required for cleanup projects they carried out without cost to the city.
That same year, the town received a national Distinguished Achievement Award for its beautification efforts. Delegates from Seymour traveled to Washington, D.C., early in 1964 to attend a reception honoring Seymour.
In 1965, Seymour was declared “The Cleanest Town In Missouri.”
Somehow, sometime between the 1960s and into the 21st century, Seymour lost its City Of Flowers title, as well as its status of being a clean and well-kept town.
Fast forward to 2019.
There is a new movement underway to clean up and beautify the city and to bring back the town’s fame as the City Of Flowers.
The Seymour Community Development Association(SCDA), with Sheila Sturdefant as president, is making a real effort to get residents and businesses involved.
After many decades of absence, new signs proclaiming Seymour to be the City Of Flowers can be seen around town, courtesy of the Seymour Board of Aldermen and city government.
SCBA member and longtime Seymour resident Delilah Johnson, said, “We are tired of the city looking trashy and run down. If we want to attract new business, we have to make the town look better.”
Even without an active garden club to spearhead beautification activities, Johnson hopes that various individuals and organizations will work together to revive the city pride evident in past decades and to once again bring recognition to Seymour as The City Of Flowers.