50 People, Places, and Things that are So Columbia


J’den Cox
Hometown hero J’den Cox easily captured Columbia’s heart with his winning moves on the wrestling mat, first for Hickman High School and then at the University of Missouri, where he was a three-time NCAA Division I national champion and four-time All-American. But he would go on to capture much more: a bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio and two consecutive World Champion titles. Cox is currently training for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.


Hank Waters
The Columbia Daily Tribune was the Waters’ family business, and Hank first worked as a paperboy before selling ads. He then served as the paper’s publisher for more than 44 years, before retiring from the position in 2010. Under his hand, the Tribune would win hundreds of state and national awards, and Waters himself would be inducted into the Missouri Press Association’s Hall of Fame. Perhaps even more impressive was his editorial output: He penned more than 18,000 daily editorials, fearlessly giving voice to countless important issues. Waters also made a name for himself as a civic leader and philanthropist.

Sophie Cunningham (Left)
Sophie Cunningham might have moved from Columbia since her days playing basketball for the Tigers, but she is still considered a quintessential Columbian by everyone here. During her time at MU, the Columbia native became the school’s all-time leading scorer and was an AP All-American. She is currently a professional basketball player for the Phoenix Mercury of the Women’s National Basketball Association.

Chris Gervino
Sportscaster Chris Gervino has been a fixture covering Columbia’s athletic action for more than 30 years. He graduated from Mizzou’s journalism school in 1988 and stuck around to cover the city’s sports scene. Gervino has served as sports director at KOMU 8 since January 2000; he anchors weeknight sportscasts and hosts “Sports Xtra with Chris Gervino” on Sunday nights. When it comes to sports of all sorts, he’s definitely got game.Norm Stewart (Right)
During his 32-year tenure coaching Mizzou men’s basketball, Norm Stewart led the Tigers to eight Big 8 regular season championships and an impressive array of postseason performances. He earned coach of the year honors from both the UPI and AP and was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2000. His passion on the sidelines earned him the nickname “Stormin’ Norman.” His passion and tenacity would serve him well later as he battled colon cancer. While his legacy on the court will never be forgotten, he and his wife, Virginia, will also be remembered for their tireless commitment and support in the fight against cancer — a fight evidenced by the Virginia and Norman Stewart Cancer Center at Boone Hospital.


Darwin Hindman (Left)
Here at Inside Columbia, we covered Mayor Hindman and his vision for the community for decades. Our relationship with him stretches back to his initial election campaign in 1995. He even won Best Elected Official/Public Servant in our annual Best of Columbia contest in 2010. He was known for advocating changes that promoted healthier lifestyles such as opening new parks, preserving trails and making Columbia more bicycle-friendly. He was a driving force behind the development of the ARC, Flat Branch Park, Stephens Lake Park and the MKT Trail. Hindman passed away in 2019 at age 86.

Carl Edwards
A Columbia native, Carl Edwards graduated from Rock Bridge and briefly studied engineering at Mizzou before leaving to become a full-time stock car racing driver. He enjoyed a successful NASCAR career, retiring at the beginning of 2017 after more than 20 years. Edwards was known for his trademark move of celebrating victories with a backflip off his car. He lives in Columbia with his wife, a physician, and two children.

Gary Pinkel
The winningest head coach in the history of Missouri Tigers’ football, Gary Pinkel led the team from 2001 to 2015. He took the Tigers to 10 bowl games in 15 years, securing wins in six. Pinkel announced his retirement toward the end of 2015, as he prepared to tackle his toughest opponent ever: non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He wanted to spend time with his family and focus on his fight. Treatment initially sent his cancer into remission, but Pinkel announced in mid-2019 that it had returned. That same year he founded the GP MADE Foundation to assist youths with physical, economic and social challenges.

Mary Anne McCollum
Mary Anne McCollum retains the distinction of having been Columbia’s only female mayor, serving from 1989 to 1995. Before becoming mayor, she served on a number of city boards and task forces and the city council. McCollum also served as the executive director of Associated Students of the University of Missouri, a student lobbying organization, and has volunteered with numerous nonprofits and community associations, including the Central Missouri Humane Society and Rainbow House. She’s currently secretary of the University of Missouri Flagship Council PAC.

Almeta Crayton
When she was elected in 1999 to represent the First Ward, Almeta Crayton became Columbia’s first black city councilwoman. She would retain that position until her defeat in 2008. Crayton devoted much of her life to service in Columbia, working to make our community safer for youths and better for those who were less economically fortunate. In 1997 she started the community event “Everybody Eats!” to provide Thanksgiving meals for families in need. Crayton passed away in 2013, and today her son, Tyrone, continues to hold the event in her honor.Jim Riek
Jim Riek originally hit Missouri’s broadcast airwaves on the radio in Jefferson City as a high school senior. He would later switch to TV — and also switch from sports reporting to news. He’s been anchoring evening newscasts at KOMU 8 since 1997, and scores of viewers count on him to keep them in the know. Speaking of scores, Riek’s love of sports never really left him: He’s an avid golfer and married Jack Nicklaus’ first cousin, Linda.

The Burney Sisters (Right)
Indie/folk/pop sister duo the Burney Sisters first appeared on Columbia’s music scene a few years ago when they began busking downtown. Since then, Olivia Burney and younger sister Emma have gained a devoted fan following, released two EPs and twice taken the stage at Roots N Blues N BBQ. Last year’s show schedule took them throughout Missouri, including St. Louis, to Iowa and into Illinois, including Chicago.


Jesse Hall, The Columns, and Francis Quadrangle
Constructed in 1895, Jesse Hall was originally the “New Academic Hall” after the original burned down in 1892, leaving only the columns behind. The hall was later renamed after MU President Richard Henry Jesse and now serves as an administrative building. After surviving the Academic Hall fire of 1892, the Columns were the last standing reminder. Today they serve as landmarks on MU’s campus, and the annual Tiger Walk through the Columns signals the beginning of students’ college experiences.

Faurot Field
Faurot Field and Memorial Stadium first opened in 1926 and since then have had multiple additions, including the South End Zone complex in 2019. Today, the seating capacity for the stadium is around 61,000, but on past occasions more than 75,000 people have attended games at Faurot Field.


Booches Billiard Hall (Left)
Don’t expect any frills — or even plates — at this Columbia staple. Their beloved burgers are served on squares of wax paper that need no embellishment. Sports Illustrated named Booches the best college town food in 2019, and locals completely agree; they even have their own language here — order chili by asking for a “bowl of red.”

Cooper’s Landing
A favorite relaxation spot for college students, professionals and hobbyists alike, Cooper’s Landing offers an oasis right in Columbia — you don’t have to go far to be in a whole new world. Camp, boat or just hang out at the marina and soak up the sunshine glinting off the Missouri River.

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park (Right)
The park originally began as a memorial for Lew Stoerker’s daughter, Carol, who died in a car accident in 1961. It only became a state park after more than 15 landowners agreed to sell their land and countless community members, organizations and businesses raised enough money buy the land. The two caves located along the Devil’s Icebox Trail, Devil’s Icebox and Connor’s Cave, offer something unique, including a habitat for organisms such as the pink planarian flatworm, which is found nowhere else on earth, and two federally endangered bat species. In order to protect the bats, Devil’s Icebox cave has been closed since 2010, but Connor’s Cave, which is located just downstream, is open and provides the same wild character, with the perk of being novice-friendly. Don’t forget to bring a flashlight and pair of waterproof boots!The Candy Factory
For more than 40 years, The Candy Factory has been providing Columbians with chocolate confections. It is perhaps most well-known for its chocolate-covered strawberries, which are most popular this month. But The Candy Factory exists outside of Valentine’s Day and has a wide variety of candies, chocolates and gifts for any occasion — or for no occasion at all.

Alley A
Nestled between Broadway and Cherry Street lies an alley — traditionally a place to store garbage — home to some of Columbia’s best coffee, beer and Asian cuisine (Shortwave, Günter Hans and Kampai). In 2019, two butterfly murals along with the words “kindness changes everything” were added to the alley.

Mugs Up
Somewhat of a hidden gem, this seasonal standout at 603 Orange St. typifies the best of an old-school drive-in, offering the ultimate in nostalgic noshing. The refreshing house-made root beer — a more mellow take on the almost jarring carbonation of many other versions of the standard soda — Zip burgers and other classic drive-in fare keep Columbians coming back for more.

Broadway Diner
Whether you’re looking for a late-night snack or an early morning treat, Broadway Diner offers it all in a classic location with retro décor. When it first opened in 1938, it was known as the Minute Inn and was located on Broadway. It was renamed and relocated to its Fourth Street location in 1989. Still kicking after more than 60 years, it’s a popular spot on weekend mornings, so be sure to get there early.

The Missouri Theatre
As the only remaining pre-Depression era movie theater and vaudeville stage still standing in central Missouri, the Missouri Theatre draws locals and travelers alike. The theater’s design is modeled after the Paris Opera House and features ornate details such as stained-glass art panels and an Italian chandelier. Operas, plays and other performances are regularly held, including The National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine this year.


Ernie’s Cafe & Steak House
Multiple generations have dined at Ernie’s since it opened in 1934. And although it’s changed hands several times, not much else has. You can still get the Chopped Cow, a favorite of “Dick Tracy” cartoonist Chester Gould. Gould’s daughter went to Stephens College in the 1940s, and Gould was such a fan that he gave the eatery an original drawing that still graces the wall there.

The Blue Note (Left)
Chances are if you enjoy music, you’ve been to The Blue Note. Up-and-comers such as Dillon Scott and big stars such as Chance the Rapper have performed at this Ninth Street venue. The Summerfest series, an outdoor concert event that runs from April through October, regularly features artists such as Kip Moore and Brothers Osborne.

Logboat Brewing Co.
Since opening its doors in 2014, Logboat has been a destination for anyone looking for a local brew, some fresh air and Columbia’s food truck scene. The perfect Logboat day involves a few of your favorite brews — try the Snapper, an American IPA; Bobber, an unfiltered pale German lager; or Shiphead, an American wheat with ginger and citrus flavors — and add in a sandwich from Ozark Mountain Biscuit Co. and quality time with friends in the park.

Dryer’s Shoes
Still operating in its original location after 64 years, Dryer’s motto of “Your footwear fix since ’56” couldn’t ring more true. This legacy business has helped countless Columbians put their best foot forward for decades by offering high-quality footwear, current styles and unparalleled customer service you just won’t find at bigger stores or online.

Stephens Lake Park
With 116 acres, Stephens Lake Park is a treasured recreation destination in CoMo. When the weather cooperates, winter offers a chance to skate or sled. Plus, the walking trails are open all year long. In summer, enjoy the swimming beach or soak up some fun at the spraygrounds. And, of course, the park plays host to two of Columbia’s most anticipated annual outdoor festivals: Roots N Blues N BBQ and Art in the Park.

Columbia Art League
Founded in 1959, the Columbia Art League (CAL) has been supporting artists and showcasing their works for more than half a century. Exhibitions change several times a year, with most of the displayed works available for sale, including jewelry, ceramics, fiber art and more. CAL also offers art classes for children and adults and hosts the annual Art in the Park festival the first weekend in June.

Maplewood Barn Theatre
The original theater began in 1973 with the forming of the Maplewood Barn Theatre Committee. It operated out of a 96-year-old barn in what is Nifong Park, but on April 5, 2010, a fire consumed the barn, along with most of the theater’s costumes, props and set pieces. The barn was rebuilt, and in 2012 the new building opened. Upcoming productions include “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

Buck’s Ice Cream
Buck’s Ice Cream, in Eckles Hall on MU’s campus, first opened in 1989 when MU graduates Wendell and Ruth Arbuckle returned to campus after successful careers in the ice cream industry eager to give back to their alma mater. Tiger Stripe, Buck’s most popular flavor, was created in 1992 by Robert Marshall and Professor Dean Shelley, who wanted to create an ice cream unique to MU. After some trial and error — licorice and orange sherbet do not taste good together — the Tiger Stripe known and loved today was created.

The Key
The distinctive and iconic keyhole-shaped sculpture that acts as a main portal to City Hall was installed in mid-2010. Designed by New Mexico artist Howard Meehan, it includes images of local landmarks, and significant citizens such as Mary Paxton Keeley and John William “Blind” Boone, against a backdrop of local historical maps. It is built of structural steel and glass and illuminated with LED lighting.

Katy Trail
Beloved by bikers, hikers, runners, dog walkers and nature lovers of all sorts, the Katy Trail is the old route of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas rail line (M-K-T, or “Katy” for short). The trail is the country’s longest recreational rail trail, spanning 237 miles (386 kilometers), and stretches across most of the state of Missouri. More than half its length follows Lewis and Clark’s path up the Missouri River.Columbia Farmers Market (Right)
Since it was first organized in 1980, the Columbia Farmers Market has grown into one of the best places to get fresh produce, baked goods and more, with more than 80 vendors each week. In 2019, the market moved to the MU Healthcare Pavilion at the Columbia Agriculture Park, where vendors can now sell their products in the same marketplace year-round.

Flat Branch Brewery
Serving Columbians since 1994, Flat Branch continues to be one of the most popular local spots for drinks, dinner and patio dining. But Flat Branch Brewery started much earlier: It was Columbia’s first brewery in 1841. The current-day restaurant/brewery is housed in what was a Hudson car dealership in the 1920s. The patio attracts locals and college students alike during nice weather, so be prepared to wait; but don’t worry, it’s worth it.

Rose Music Hall
Shrimp, Oysters & Beer; Park Place; Mojo’s; Rose — it’s a music hall that has gone by many names, but what has persisted is its draw for both performers and listeners. Check out artists such as Randall King and Dylan LeBlanc this year.

Sharp End
The historic black business district in downtown Columbia might no longer physically exist, but thanks to its heritage committee, its roots still do. Sharp End was a community that drew people from outside of Columbia to its businesses, restaurants and spirit. In 1959, Columbia executed an urban renewal plan that replaced Sharp End with parking and public housing. A historical plaque on Walnut Street commemorates the memories many Columbians cherish from this district.

Hall Theatre
Located on Ninth Street is what some remember as a Panera Bread until it closed in 2013, but the history of the Hall Theatre goes back much further. It first opened its doors in 1916, and it had a successful 55-year run offering a variety of productions, from mystery war drama to vaudeville performances. Since the Panera Bread closed, the building has remained empty. Although its future is uncertain, Columbians unanimously agree the historic Hall Theatre should remain standing.

As one of the most established restaurants in Columbia, Murry’s continues to be one of the most popular spots for lunch, dinner and live jazz. Since its inception in 1985, Murry’s has stuck to its mission: Keep it simple, and keep it good. The eclectic menu features local favorites such as Brock’s Pepper Rings and the steak sandwich. Dessert offerings rotate, but the gooey butter cake alone makes it worth a visit.

Shakespeare’s Pizza
Serving Columbians hot slices of ’za since 1973, Shakespeare’s is one of the most Columbia things to exist; in December, Barstool Sports visited as part of its Pizza Review series. While its pizza is great, its eclectic décor — think “Liquor, Guns & Ammo” signs — and washcloth napkins set it apart. The Masterpiece pizza, won the “Good Morning America” Best Bites Challenge: College Edition in 2010.


Columbia’s annual cinematic celebration of documentary films debuted in 2004 as the brainchild of co-founders David Wilson and Paul Sturtz. Held at various venues, including Ragtag Cinema and The Blue Note, the fest features films and filmmakers from around the world. With events and parties, art installations, panel discussions, music and more, it transforms downtown Columbia into a teeming movie mecca. This year, True/False will be March 5-8.


Roots N Blues N BBQ
Hard to imagine, but this music fest was first held downtown in 2007 as a free promotional event to celebrate what was then Boone County National Bank’s 150-year anniversary. The fest moved to its current location at Stephens Lake Park in 2013. Held in the early fall, it draws top-notch artists — including plenty of big names — from all genres of American roots music such as the blues. This year the fest will be Oct. 2-4.

MU Tigers
The Mizzou Tigers have been around since the Civil War era. The tiger symbol actually came from the Fightin’ Tigers, a group of militiamen who protected the Columbia area. Truman the Tiger got his name from former President Harry Truman in 1984, thanks to the suggestion of a student.

Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream (Left)
Sparky’s might be better known by its quirky paintings than its ice cream — but some of their flavors come pretty close. One particularly cicada-prolific year, they had insect-flavored ice cream. Other interesting flavors in recent years include candied bacon, Boone Olive Oil Blueberry Balsamic and many more! Sparky’s also has some booze-filled options such as a Guinness Float.

Show-Me Sauce (Right)
Local legend has it that Columbia veterinarian Dr. Harry Berrier made his first batch of this sweet, smoky barbecue sauce in his bathtub. Created in the early 1960s, Show-Me amazingly doesn’t spoil or need to be refrigerated. Its brand of liquid smoke is distilled, with no carcinogens, and the sauce has no added fillers or preservatives.Columbia Culinary Tours
After going on culinary tours while traveling with her husband, Columbia native Kerri Linder wanted to bring the concept to her hometown, founding Columbia Culinary Tours in 2014. Four years later, Jim and Tina McNeil took over the business. The tours combine local flavor with historical tidbits for a fun and memorable way to savor the best of our city. A variety of tour options are available, including private ones.

Tigers on the Prowl
This local 501(c)(3) charity was founded by Chuck Crews in an effort to fundraise while also producing unique Columbia art — think a tiger sculpture painted with elements of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” In the event’s first year in 2014, 10 local Columbia businesses and charities each teamed up with one of 10 local artists and created the first 10 tigers. In the years since, Tigers
on the Prowl has raised more than $600,000 for local charities.


Art in the Park (Left)
This two-day art festival founded in 1958 is the oldest and largest in mid-Missouri. Artists sell work ranging from ceramics to paintings, fiber and glass to wood and sculpture. Every year, 110 artists and 12,000 people attend the event, typically held during the first full weekend of June. The 2020 dates are June 2-4.

The Catacombs/North Village Arts
Below Artlandish Gallery on Walnut Street lies what Columbians refer to as the Catacombs. A series of galleries, Fretboard Coffee, Shear Soul and more are all connected by colorful catacomb-like tunnels. Once a month, galleries in the North Village Arts District keep their doors open late for First Fridays.

Task Force 1
Missouri Task Force One is managed by the Boone County Fire Protection District under an agreement with the State Emergency Management Agency. It’s one of 28 Urban Search and Rescue teams in the United States. The task force is designed to assist local emergency agencies facing a disaster response, both in-state and out-of-state. Its most recent out-of-state deployment occurred this past September, when 52 task force members deployed to Florida and South Carolina for nine days in response to Hurricane Dorian.Boone County Brown (Right)
One of Bur Oak Brewing Company’s original three offerings, this American brown ale has been around since 2013. Available on tap or in cans, it’s a rich brown ale, with a roasted malt character and notes of chocolate and coffee. No wonder so many of its devotees like to down a Brown.

Leave a Reply