Get Set To Explore With 3 Months Of Festivals
BY ANITA NEAL HARRISON
The end of summer and start of fall are filled with fairs and festivals in Missouri. These events showcase the state’s rich history and diverse cultures and offer the perfect excuse to go exploring. Find something to do every weekend from early August through late October in this guide to the fun.
JOUR DE FETE
Saturday, Aug. 8, and Sunday, Aug. 9
Set in the Missouri’s oldest European settlement, Jour de Fete in Ste. Genevieve takes visitors back to a 1700s French Colonial village. There are more than 100 booths at this arts and crafts festival, with goods ranging from doll clothes to stained glass. Artisans in colonial attire demonstrate blacksmithing, woodworking, soap making and more at the Felix Vallé State Historic Site. Visitors also explore a living French militia encampment, and both days offer a variety of food and drink and musical entertainment.
MISSOURI STATE FAIR
Thursday, Aug. 13, through Sunday, Aug. 23
$10 adults, $7 seniors, $2 children 6 to 12, and free 5 and under
From 4-H and FFA members showcasing their livestock to a new permanent exhibit honoring Missouri’s farm families, the Missouri State Fair remains strong on ag pride. Fairgoers can find expert advice on cooking, gardening, livestock care, hunting, fishing and other skills part and parcel of the country life. The State Fair also has an impressive concert lineup including Alabama, the Fray, Def Leppard, John Michael Montgomery, Casting Crowns, Gary Allen and Justin Moore. Plus, there will be stages offering free entertainment and, of course, a midway full of carnival rides.
TRAILS WEST FESTIVAL
Friday, Aug. 21, through Sunday, Aug. 23
St. Joseph, the town where the Pony Express began and Jesse James met his end, is also home to the largest festival in northwest Missouri. Trails West! features fine arts, fine crafts and fabulous food. Entertainment is on three stages — a main stage, family stage and city stage — plus there are strolling artists and historical re-enactors. Artists must be juried into the festival to appear in either the Fine Arts or the Fine Crafters areas.
MISSOURI RIVER FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS
Thursday, Aug. 27 through Saturday, Aug. 29
$65 for the series; $25 for single nights
Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2015, the Missouri River Festival of the Arts is a three-night classical music festival held in Boonville’s Thespian Hall, the oldest theater west of the Allegheny Mountains still in use today. This year’s program features jazz pianist Peter Martin with The 442’s; David Halen, Helen Kim, Grace Parks and other festival favorites performing Villa-Lobos, Mendelssohn and more; David Halen and Noah Geller performing Bach’s “Double Violin Concerto”; and a full chamber orchestra performing Dvorak’s “New World Symphony.” The festival also includes a visual art exhibit in Boonville’s historic Hain House.
KANSAS CITY IRISH FEST
Friday, Sept. 4 through Sunday, Sept. 6
$30 for weekend pass; various other tickets available
This three-day Celtic extravaganza brings plenty o’ music, dancing, food and storytelling to the Crown Center in Kansas City. Acts such as Gaelic Storm and Socks in the Frying Pan perform on two main stages, while a culture stage features workshops and performances about Irish history, music and travel. Other draws include a comedy stage, an artisans’ showcase, whisky tastings, a genealogy area, festival shopping, delicious festival food and more. On Sunday morning, festival-goers are invited to celebrate an outdoor Catholic Mass.
CALHOUN COLT SHOW AND FESTIVAL
Friday, Sept. 11 through Sunday, Sept. 13
The small town of Calhoun will hold its 106th Calhoun Colt Show this fall. Step back in time to experience an old-fashioned grand parade, carnival, swap meet, horseshoe pitching tournament, archery tournament, car and bike show, beer garden, nightly entertainment and contests for fancywork, flowers, culinary creations, and farm and orchard bounty — along with the equine shows and competitions. Saturday brings both the Mule, Draft, Light & Miniature Horse Show and the Colt Show Shootout, a cowboy mounted shooting event. Sunday has the Western Fun Horse Show featuring 47 competition classes, including various breeds, walk trot, pole bending, barrels, flags and more.
HERITAGE FESTIVAL & CRAFT SHOW
Saturday, Sept. 19 and Sunday, Sept. 20
At Columbia’s Heritage Festival & Craft show, visitors listen, learn and see history come alive in historic Nifong Park. Artisans and tradesmen dressed in 19th-century attire demonstrate their trades and sell their wares. Cowboys tell tales next to their chuck wagons, and a Lewis & Clark outpost invites explorers. There will also be a large contemporary handmade craft area. Music, dancing and storytelling will take place on two stages, and the Mid-Missouri Organization Storytellers will present Saturday Evening Ghost Stories. Tour the Historic Maplewood Home and the Walter’s Boone County Historical Museum as well.
ROOTS N BLUES N BBQ FESTIVAL
Friday, Sept. 25 through Sunday, Sept. 27
$125 for weekend pass; various other passes available
Called “one of the most prominent festivals in the country” by American Blues Scene Magazine, Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival brings artists representing roots, blues, gospel, country, folk, rock and soul to Stephens Lake Park. Featured artists this year include Dwight Yoakam, Buddy Guy, Brandi Carlile, Lucinda Williams and The Word, among more than a dozen others. Visual art transforms the park setting, and the food offerings come from some 25 food vendors, plus there’s a beer garden. A half marathon and 10K on Saturday morning and a gospel event on Sunday are festival bonuses.
OLDE TYME APPLE FESTIVAL
Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3
The Versailles Olde Tyme Apple Festival fills visitors with warm remembrances of days gone by. On Friday, classic cars fill the streets for a cruise night and then the good times roll at a sock hop. Saturday brings a pancake breakfast, morning races, a parade, a car show, craft and vendor booths, a tractor and engine show, a pie baking contest auction, a fiddler’s contest and a compact figure 8 race. A highlight of the festivities is the annual Apple Festival Musical at the Versailles Royal Theatre, a community theater with talent rivaling professional acts. In 2015, the show is “Mary Poppins”; opening night is Thursday, Oct. 1, with shows Friday and Saturday, as well.
WITCHES NIGHT OUT
Saturday, Oct. 10
It’s a magical sight when a few thousand costumed witches descend on Kimmswick, a quaint town known for its antique shops and delicious desserts. During Witches Night Out, good witches and bad witches fill the streets for a spell in this adult girls’ night out. The “evening bativities” include prizes for best hat, best broom and best witch overall; ghoulish shop discounts; a skeleton bones scavenger hunt; a “witch’s brew” wine tasting; and many spooktacular surprises throughout the evening. A portion of the proceeds benefits local charities. Men and children are asked not to attend.
CENTRAL MISSOURI RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL
Saturday, Oct. 17 and Sunday, Oct. 18
$8; free for children 5 and under
Held at Boster Castle Fairgrounds, the Central Missouri Renaissance Festival celebrates the Renaissance spirit through games, live entertainment and a thriving marketplace of artisans. Knights in armor, Scottish warriors and pirates all wander about and have their own encampments. Merchants pack the village streets and peddle both practical and fanciful wares. Performers entertain on three stages, with acts ranging from a musical duet performing Celtic, folk and Renaissance-era songs to a magician who travels with his own baby dragon. And then there’s the feasting — turkey legs, pulled pork sandwiches, kettle corn, funnel cakes and more.
CITIZEN JANE FILM FESTIVAL
Thursday, Oct. 22 through Sunday, Oct. 25
$100 for pass covering special events; $60 for pass covering all films
An intimate, three-day film festival, Citizen Jane celebrates independent female filmmakers from around the world. Narrative, documentary and short films all have a place at this festival, with screenings taking place in various downtown venues. Filmmakers and audiences connect and shine a light on the amazing work of women in film. The festival also offers a filmmaker brunch, a VIP reception, a dance party and panel discussions throughout the weekend.
*Unless otherwise noted, costs are for event admittance. There may be other charges for different offerings.