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Spring is here and so are Missouri’s festivals



Historic Downtown Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Historic Downtown Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Spring is finally here, which means it's time to shelve your Snuggie, head outdoors, take in the sunshine and enjoy warmer weather.

Around Missouri, outdoor fun is multiplied by the dozens of unique fairs and festivals scheduled to take place in the coming months, so, no matter where you live - or are visiting - in Missouri, you'll surely find an event to your liking. We've got storytelling events, festivals with an international flair, and plenty of good food and drink. So put away your snow boots and grab your tennis shoes, it's time to stroll through Missouri's festival landscape.

In April, the festival season really picks up around Missouri, so hold onto your hat, because these events create a whirlwind of excitement.

For starters, there's See the World In Bransona special celebration of world cultures - with a focus on the international entertainment, attractions and cuisine people may find in Branson - that runs from April through the end of May at a variety of venues around Branson, www.ExploreBranson.com. Also in Branson, check out World Fest, a celebration of international music and fun, held April 8-May 9 at Silver Dollar City.

After seeing the world, you can hear more about it - and some tall tales, too - at the Cape Girardeau Storytelling Festival. The event is set for April 9-11 at two different tent locations in the downtown/riverfront area of Cape Girardeau, www.VisitCape.com, and it will feature nationally known storytellers. That same weekend, Frontier Park in St. Charles, www.HistoricStCharles.com, will host Missouri Tartan Day, a three-day celebration of Scottish culture featuring music, food, dance, storytelling and a parade. Across the state, the University of Central Missouri's UCM New Music Festival, is set for April 10-11 in Warrensburg, www.VisitWarrensburg.org.

The next week brings April 15, a date many folks dread because it's the day taxes are due. But there are enough festivals around Missouri that week to make you forget all about W-2s and accountants - though we'd recommend getting your paperwork in order before going out to have fun. April 15-18 marks two major celebrations of Mother Nature's beauty: The 42nd Annual Dogwood and Azalea Festival, in Charleston, www.CharlestonMo.org, and the Lake of the Ozark's 60th Annual Dogwood Festival, in Camdenton, www.CamdentonChamber.com.

Meanwhile, there are two events April 16-17 for people who enjoy good barbecue and friendly competition. The Jefferson City Jaycees Fairgrounds in Missouri's capital, Jefferson City,www.VisitJeffersonCity.com, will host the Third Annual Capital City Cookoff, at the same time the state's third-largest city, Springfield, www.SpringfieldMo.com, hosts the Rotary Clubs of Springfield's 11th Annual Rock 'n' Ribs Barbecue Festival, at the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World. If you make it to Springfield for the ribs, you might also want to drive south to Branson, where you'll find hundreds of performers taking care of business at the Branson Elvis Festival. This tribute to Elvis Presley is April 16-18 at Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater.

If April hasn't worn you out just yet, there still are plenty of activities to consider, including the Just Girls Weekend, where the focus is on shopping, classes, hands-on demonstrations and loft tours, from April 23-25 in Hannibal; the Mid-Missouri Storytelling Festival, featuring more than a dozen storytellers giving public concerts for grown-ups at 7 p.m. April 23 and for families at 10 a.m. April 24 at the Missouri River Regional Library, in Jefferson City; the Clarksville Antique Festival, April 24, at various locations around Clarksville; the Spring Art Walk, April 23-25 on Main Street in St. Charles; the Third Annual Chalk Walk, in Historic Northeast Kansas City, www.NortheastArtsKC.org, and The Cherry Blossom Festival, which features cherry pie contests, crafts and food vendors April 22-24 in Marshfield.

History buffs may be interested in Civil War Days, set for April 23-24 at the Heritage Homestead, in Doniphan. This two-day living history event features company drills and skirmishes along with craft demonstrations, music and food.

If you still haven't had enough fun in April, you might also check out the Highlands in the Burg,  a festival celebrating all things Scottish, including games, held April 24 at the Johnson County Fairgrounds in Warrensburg; the Fort D Living History event, where Civil War re-enactors will be cleaning their equipment and sharpening their skills on April 24-25 at Fort D in Cape Girardeau; the Missouri Food and Wine Festival, featuring foods from around Branson and around the globe, April 24-25 at Branson's Chateau on the Lake, and the 21st Annual St. Louis Earth Day Festival, held April 25 on the Muny Grounds at Forest Park in St. Louis, www.ExploreStLouis.com.

If you'd rather hear music, try The 30th Annual Spring Golden Valley Bluegrass Jamboree, April 29-May 2 at Lester Foster Music Park just outside of Clinton, www.ClintonMo.com; or maybe you'd rather see all the vehicles on display at the 22nd Annual Magic Dragon Street Meet Nationals, held April 30-May 2 on the Bagnell Dam Strip in Lake Ozark.

Whew! There's a lot going on in April, and May promises to bring just as much fun, with a great lineup of events including the Earth Day Festival held May 1 at Grover Memorial Park in Warrensburg; Springfield's ArtsFest, which is celebrating 30 years during its two-day festival May 1-2 on Walnut Street in Springfield; the Art Fair at Laumeier, which features more than 150 artists showing their works from May 7-9 at the Laumeier Sculpture Park, in St. Louis; or the 25th Annual Mayfest and Craft Fair, which features a parade, live music and a craft fair and is set for May 7-8 on the Square in Perryville, www.PerryvilleMo.com.

From there, don't forget to check out the Dogwood Car and Truck Festival, which is May 8 in Cassville, www.Cassville.com; the May Festival, featuring antiques, crafts and entertainment May 8-9 on Main Street in Blackwater, www.BlackwaterMo.com; or the Spring Fling, dedicated to nurseries, florists, plantgrowers and lawncare, held April 15 in Marshall, www.VisitMarshallMo.com.

If food and music are a winning combination for you, check out the Bluegrass and Barbecue Festival, May 13-31 at Silver Dollar City in Branson; or take the opportunity to learn about the world during Chinese Culture Days, where art, music, dance, history and food are part of the fun during the two-day event May 15-16 at the Missouri Botanical Garden, in St. Louis.

And don't forget to check out Oma and Noma Days, a celebration of the first crossing of the Bagnell Dam by Oma and Noma Degraffenried in 1931, where clothing and styles from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s are still in style and local musicians offer entertainment and crafters offer their wares. The event is May 15-16 on the Bagnell Dam Strip in Lake Ozark. The 1920s also will be celebrated during Gatsby Days, April 23-25, in Excelsior Springs, www.ExSpgsChamber.com. There will be a Roarin' Twenties Black Bottom Ball, along with arts, crafts, a day tour and a children's art show.

Mid-May also brings a celebration of German heritage to the city of Hermann, www.VisitHermann.com, which celebrates Maifest. This weekend event, set for May 14-16, features food, maypole dancers, an open-air craft market and parade.

And what could be one of the state's unique happenings is the annual Frog Fest, set for May 15 at the Waynesville City Park. This event is held in honor of W.H. Croaker, affectionately known as Frog Rock, a large rock (painted to look like a frog) that overlooks the city of Waynesville. During the day-long festival, guests may browse craft booths, watch the medieval sword fight re-enactments or watch frogs race down the Roubidoux River.

As you can see, there are more than enough festivals around Missouri to keep you busy for the next several weeks. If you'd like to learn more about Missouri, or to order a free Missouri Travel Guide, log onto www.VisitMO.com or call 800-519-4800.

Photo by berriehol


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