Autumn Festivals

Cooler temperatures and low humidity combine to create perfect weather in mid-Missouri during September and October. Celebrate the bounties of the season with art shows and festivals.

Whether you are looking for a new piece of art to brighten your home or office, or a pumpkin or a mum plant to embrace the season, there’s an event for that. If you prefer to listen to music in the great outdoors or stroll with a glass of wine while perusing antiques and home décor, there’s an event for that. And if you want to learn about our history while celebrating our identity, there’s an event for that, as well.

Here is just a sampling of the festivals and events that make mid-Missouri so much fun during the fall season.


First Fridays in the North Village

What it’s about: About 150 artists in 24 studios and galleries open late, street performers, food and drinks on the street and family-friendly activities.
Where: North Village Arts District, roughly nine square blocks from Rogers to Walnut and from College to Ninth Street.
When: Friday, Sept. 6, and Friday, Oct. 4, 6-9 p.m.
Website: northvillageartsdistrict.org
Tip: Free parking at the Short Street Garage or Wabash Station beginning at 7 p.m. Don’t miss The Fried Crawdaddies Blues Band, scheduled at Rose Music Hall on Sept. 6. 


Center for Missouri Studies, Opening Receptions

What it’s about: This new center operated by the State Historical Society of Missouri provides a variety of programs that promote a better understanding of the Show Me State. Two receptions celebrate the opening of art shows.
Where: 605 Elm St., downtown Columbia

Landscape Visions by Oliver Schuchard.
When: Saturday, Sept. 14, 1:30 p.m.
Award-winning photographer Oliver Schuchard has made Missouri his home for more than four decades. This exhibition displays Schuchard’s dedication to the aesthetics and craft of black-and-white landscape photography.
Thomas Hart Benton: The Complete Editioned Lithographs
When: Thursday, Sept. 19, 6:30 p.m.
More than 90 master prints dating from 1929 to 1974 reflect the many changes that took place in Benton’s attitudes and artwork over the course of his life. Many of these lithographs are variations on famed Benton paintings, and the diverse imagery attests to the complexity of the artist’s aesthetic, political and social ideas.

Website: shsmo.org/thecenter
Tip:  Parking is free, but visitors must get a vehicle hangtag from the welcome desk.


Rocheport Wine Stroll

What it’s about: Sample wines from more than a dozen Missouri wineries, and perhaps a few local breweries, at this strolling open house in Rocheport. Various vendors and performers scheduled, as well.
Where: Downtown Rocheport
When: Saturday, Sept. 21; check-in at 2 p.m.; event begins at 4 p.m.
Website: rocheport-mo.com/events
Tip: Advance purchase of tickets (via website) is highly recommended. Must be 21 or older.


42nd Annual Heritage Festival and Craft Show

What it’s about: Step back to the mid-1800s with costumed interpreters performing tasks of another time period. The festival features 70 craft vendors, a kids’ activity area with crafts and farm animals, and music on three stages, including Celtic, blues, bluegrass, folk and Cajun. Stay for ghost stories at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Nifong Park, Highway 63 and Grindstone Parkway
When: Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 21-22, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tip: One of the more popular performances happens at 2 p.m. Saturday. A dance group from Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, KS, will perform traditional dances in full regalia. Grab a seat early.


Roots N Blues N BBQ

What it’s about: Nearly 30 bands playing blues and roots music fill the stages amid the smoking aroma of barbecue and eclectic collection of interactive art exhibits. Bring a blanket and lawn chairs.
Where: Stephens Lake Park, 2001 E. Broadway
When: Friday to Sunday, Sept. 27-29.
Tip: Tickets go on sale Sept. 13. Vendors do not accept cash, credit or debit cards; cashless wrist bands are provided with your ticket. Park in downtown garages and take the free shuttle to the park.


Moberly Fall Festival

What it’s about: Family-friendly event with bounce houses, train rides, hay rides, petting zoo, crafts and food.
Where: Rothwell Park in Moberly
When: Saturday, Oct. 5, 3-7 p.m.
Tip: It’s free!


Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival

What it’s about: Self-proclaimed as Missouri Pumpkin Patch, this festival boasts more than 10,000 pumpkins for sale; pony and wagon rides, games, crafts, music and food in the adorable little town of Hartsburg.
Where: Hartsburg. Take Highway 63 south from Columbia to Highway A, follow the signs.
When: Saturday and Sunday; Oct. 12-13; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Website: hartsburgpumpkinfest.com
Tip: With upwards of 50,000 people attending in two days, the traffic is crazy. Carpool if you can, obey traffic signs and arrive early on Saturday for the best selection of pumpkins.


Mizzou Homecoming Parade

What it’s about: The oldest homecoming celebration in the world, when Mizzou alumni return to their alma mater; multiple events, from a campus decoration contest in Greektown to the pep rally at Traditions Plaza.
Where: The route goes through the Mizzou campus and downtown Columbia. Some of the best viewing spots are on Ninth Street and Broadway.
When: Saturday, Oct. 12, approximately 9 a.m.
Website: mizzou.com/homecoming
Tip: Some people camp out overnight for best viewing spots. Otherwise, bring a chair and come early. Check the website for multiple events taking place all weekend on the Mizzou campus.


Plein Air Painting in Rocheport

What it’s about: The first event of its kind in Rocheport features workshops and discussions about plein air painting by artist Billyo O’Donnell.
Where: Locations throughout Rocheport
When: Friday to Sunday, Oct. 11-13
Website: rocheport-mo.com/events
Tip: You don’t have to paint to attend and learn. Some fees may apply.