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Leading Locally: Marshfield Area Community Foundation

Marshfield, the birthplace of astronomer Edwin P. Hubble and home to the longest-running Fourth of July parade west of the Mississippi River, is also supported by a group of dedicated volunteers who have raised more than $2.7 million back to the community since 2005

Affiliate Foundations

Marshfield-based foundation serves needs through Webster County and beyond

About 75 different funds support needs from history to history-making through the Marshfield Area Community Foundation.

Anchored in the town that’s home to the longest-running Fourth of July Parade west of the Mississippi River and its Cherry Blossom Festival that draws TV celebrities and U.S. presidential descendants to town each year, the MACF has distributed more than $2.7 million back into the Webster County area since its inception in 2005.

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A replica of the Hubble Telescope is present on the Webster County Courthouse's lawn.

Those distributions have come largely from Boots, Bands & BBQ, a one-night community event filled with local music, savory food and memorable fellowship.

“A lot of people do dress up Western-themed,” says Board Member Ruby Dudley. “We have a couple bands playing, and then we do our public awards for the grants that we get to give out. People have a good time — and there’s a lot of dancing.”

For more of its existence, the event was invite-only and designed for corporate sponsors rather than individual tickets. That changed in 2022, when the public was invited to attend.

Part of the decision was to increase the potential for revenue — and, therefore, dollars that could be distributed to the community — but also to help share information about the MACF to even more people. Several nonprofit partners were also invited to share more about their missions. One example is Sleep in Heavenly Peace, which builds beds for children who do not have the means to have a bed of their own.

“It’s introducing people to the foundation that haven’t ever been there before,” says Board Member Sarah Lowe. “They need to see that it’s not just about coming to a party once a year. Yes, it is a big party once a year. But it’s for the goal of raising money for us to turn around and give back."

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Boots, Bands & BBQ is the MACF's signature event.

Those funds they give back generally support causes in Webster County, but there’s flexibility depending on need. For example, in 2022, the MACF expanded its boundaries to help serve the Conway School District. Even though the school is located in neighboring Laclede County, the MACF board decided that because some of its students live in Webster County, the MACF should help meet needs there, too.

The board also has chosen to support the local drug court, a program which works with individuals convicted of certain drug-related crimes. If they agree to attend classes and complete a rehabilitation program, they will avoid a jail sentence.

“One of the barriers they said was gas money,” Lowe says. “What we did was award a grant to (the drug court) that they could use as an incentive; after they’ve attended so many things, they would give them a gas card.”

For board members, it comes back to each story and opportunity to help — even with something as simple as a gas card.

“As you get listening to the stories and you’re hearing from the individual organizations, it makes you feel good,” Lowe says. “Like you’re really impacting something.”

Looking to the Future: Continued Growth

As Marshfield Area Community Foundation board members look to the future, growth is the primary goal.

“The more funding we get, or the more funds we get, the more interest that we can give out to people,” says Dudley, Speaking to visibility of the foundation when needs arise: “I want to see more people who need more help.”

Currently, an action item is continued education about MACF and Boots, Bands & BBQ, especially now that the general public can attend the event.

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I love being involved in the community, such as through events like ‘Boots.’ Then you sit in on the interviews and you realize what we actually do, and we have money to give to back to the community. That’s when you realize we get to change those lives.”

—Ruby Dudley, MACF President

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“For me, it’s just the mission of all the organizations that we’re able to help. It’s bringing a bunch of people together for the common good. That’s why I want to be involved.”

—Sarah Lowe, MACF Vice President

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