Driving along Interstate 70 or Truman Road, it's sometimes hard to remember that Independence was once the place where thousands of westbound settlers, fur traders and religious exiles embarked on the Santa Fe, California and Oregon trails in search of a new world. Historic Independence Square is a different place 150 years later. But every Labor Day weekend for the past 36 years, thousands of people have converged to celebrate all things American. Covered wagons have been replaced by spinning carnival rides, and the now-paved roads are teaming with food-on-a-stick vendors, baby strollers and snaking extension cords. With its beer gardens, live country-music shows, 400-plus arts-and-crafts vendors, and a crowd of people from 1 to 100 years old, Santa-Cali-Gon Days helps us remember who we are as Missourians and how far we've come since the mid-1800s.