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story.lead_photo.caption First lady Teresa Parson served as guest speaker during Monday's luncheon at the Jefferson City Country Club to benefit the Cole County Historical Society. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

About 80 women, some wearing extravagant hats, mingled and enjoyed salmon and salad Monday over the sound of relaxing piano music at the Jefferson City Country Club.

Although many Cole County Historical Society events were canceled due to COVID-19, the organization finally got to hold its annual fundraising luncheon. The event was originally planned for spring but was rescheduled due to the pandemic.

At Monday's event, Missouri first lady Teresa Parson spoke about her experience in the role of first lady.

"It is very humbling and very rewarding in so many ways," she said. "It is very demanding at times, but it's something that I do enjoy doing."

Parson said she enjoys meeting people across the state and helping children through the two initiatives she works on: Jobs for American Graduates and helping children with special needs. As a mother and grandmother, she said, she enjoys helping children find opportunities through these initiatives.

Gov. Mike Parson and first lady Teresa Parson are co-chairs of JAG Missouri, a program with the goal of helping at-risk students graduate from high school and transition to post-secondary education and employment. In three years, the program grew from six Missouri schools to 82, Parson said.

"This program takes those at risk because of poverty, maybe home situations and personal trauma that's taking place in their lives, and it helps them and encourages them," she said. "I'm happy to support JAG as much as I can."

The Cole County Historical Society is a nonprofit organization that relies on funding from memberships, fundraisers, museum admission fees and donations.

The museum has been closed and has not been receiving visitors, which is a major source of operating revenue.

"As you can imagine, maintaining the extensive library of records and documents and many priceless artifacts, including the Missouri first lady inaugural gowns, and just the museum buildings themselves and utilities requires tremendous financial resources," said Barbara Tomblinson, the Cole County Historical Society's membership coordinator.

Tomblinson said she doesn't know yet when the museum can open again but hopes it will be in the spring.

The Cole County Historical Society had to cancel its fall trivia night and turkey shoot and family fun day fundraiser for this month due to COVID-19.

The turkey shoot and family fun day has been postponed to fall 2021. The turkey shoot will feature historic black powder muzzleloaders and muskets along with traditional 12-gauge shotgun contestants in period garb. The event will also include craftsmen such as blacksmiths and vendors, a bird show, period actors, and gun safety and hatchet-throwing demonstrations.

The Historical Society will begin a membership drive in a few weeks to try to get more people involved, especially young professionals, Tomblinson said. Memberships will last until December 2021. Individual memberships cost $25, senior citizens memberships $20 and family memberships $60.

Cole County Historical Society members receive free admission to the Cole County Historical Museum and special exhibits, access to the research library at a reduced rate on research fees, invitations to special events and activities, memberships and newsletter mailings, seminars, workshops, programs and lectures, and reduced rental rates for the Upschulte House and Courtyard for personal events.

"I look forward to working with each and every one of you in the mission of preserving our heritage for future generations," Tomblinson said. "We cannot stand idle, or the history of our businesses, our families and our children will be lost forever."

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