The first Santa-Cali-Gon Days Festival was held in 1940 to celebrate the unique heritage of the City of Independence as the starting point of the Santa Fe, California, and Oregon Trails. A second celebration was held after World War II in 1947. The event would not be held again until 1973.
The festival, then called Three Trails Days, featured a beard and mustache contest, the Miss Independence pageant and a pioneer costume contest. In 1974 the festival was renamed Santa-Cali-Gon Days, a name originally penned by Velma Katschkowsky in a 1940 contest to name the festival. In 38 years the Festival has evolved into one of the nations premier festivals, drawing more than 225,000 people.