PINEVILLE, Mo. — It’s a festival four days long named after an infamous Missouri bank robber, and gang leader. The event is celebrated in McDonald County, not for crimes committed, but for the impact the outlaw’s titular movie had on the area.

Production on the 1939 film “Jesse James” began the year prior, with much of the shooting taking place in and around Pineville. Some McDonald County residents were even extras.

Jesse James Days is one of the largest festivals in the county where proceeds solely benefit the local Pineville Fire Protection District.

“This is the first year Jesse James Days is put on by a separate corporation – the Pineville Fire Auxillary,” said Zach Payton, Captain and Public Information Officer of the Pineville Fire Protection District.

The local fire department took over the organization of the festival sometime in the 80s. This year, the baton has been handed to a volunteer group that makes up the Pineville Fire Auxiliary. The organization’s purpose is to raise funds just for the district.

“Until this year, the fire department has always operated on fundraising events and donations. The community and local businesses have always been supportive of that,” said Payton. “We just became a tax district and won’t receive any tax money until 2024.”

The event has been going on for the better part of the last century, though the official number of years is unknown. Generally, it’s been held every August but with record-breaking temperatures, the Auxillary decided to move the dates to late September.

“We decided to wait for cooler and more comfortable temperatures for our at-risk population. Last year, the weather was perfect and with last year’s success we wanted to continue that,” said Payton. “Last year $21,000 profit was made. We expect to meet that or beat that this year.”

If the organizers chose to continue the traditional schedule, Jesse James Days would have started this week – when the heat index was at least 110 some days. But planning for the event isn’t easy.

“From the last day of the event one year to the first day of the next, it’s being planned. It generally ramps up in February or March. But it’s all volunteer, we aren’t paid to do this and we couldn’t do it without the churches, local businesses, and other volunteers that help out,” Payton said.

Jesse James Days will begin September 27 at 6 p.m. and continue to September 30 where the event will be concluded by a live auction and raffle on the town square. You can find additional information on the Jesse James Days official Facebook page here.