Festival History

The Year 2019 marks the 49th year of the Annual Jesse James Festival, held in Kearney, Missouri. This special event will include activities to celebrate the occasion. This quiet little Missouri town, which was previously named Centreville, is the birthplace and boyhood home of Jesse James, as well as his final resting place. Over the last several years, a great deal of publicity was created by the Media all over the world concerning whether Jesse was really buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

The issue was finally settled after exhaustive studies of artifacts, as well as DNA testing of the remains of Jesse James. For the citizens of Kearney, there was never any doubt. One might ask why there is so much going on related to an outlaw whose reputation preceded him to many cities during his career as a bank robber, train robber, and even appearing as the local Robin Hood. Rumor has it that Jesse was noted for taking from the rich carpetbaggers and yankees who had all the money. He is alleged to have given much to more deserving Missouri farmers. The reality is that Kearney hosts a festival that brings a large collection of people from all walks of life together. They gather, not to pay tribute to an outlaw, but to be reminded of an historical era which had a great impact on our country.

Each year, during the 3rd weekend of September, the festival is in full swing at the Jesse James Park, just north of Kearney on Highway 33.