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festivals

by Danny Lee

Missouri has something for everyone, and for festival fans, Columbia is the place to be. From the Salute to Veterans Memorial Day Weekend Celebration in May to the nearly year-round Show-Me State Games to the pageantry of football season’s Mizzou Homecoming, Columbia is prepared to show you a good time, and then some.

Salute to Veterans Memorial Day Weekend Celebration

The sky’s the limit in May, when patriots descend on Columbia—literally, in some cases—for the year’s opens in a new windowsignature celebration of those who have served the United States’ armed forces. The headline event is always the air show, in which fighting aircraft from armed conflicts throughout modern history show their stuff to the delight of a vast crowd looking upward and shading their eyes against the bright springtime sunshine. Demonstration teams show off workhorse aircraft like the A-10 “Warthog,” T-28s, the British de Havilland D.H. 100 Vampire, Air Force T-33, the Douglas AD-1 Skyraider and even the 1917 Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny” biplane. On the ground, visitors can get close-up looks at Vietnam-era Huey choppers, light observation aircraft and exhibitions by the nation’s military services. A parade on Memorial Day concludes at Columbia College Athletic Field, where the U.S. Army Black Daggers and the Canadian Armed Forces parachute teams make precision landings to kick off the formal Salute to the Nation Ceremony.

Art in the Park

It isn’t just about paintings. When the Columbia Art League sets out to create an opens in a new windowart festival every year in June, the palette ranges from sculpture to clothing to fabrics to ceramics and, yes, paintings in every medium and genre. To occupy visitors between exhibits and sales kiosks, the grounds abound with roaming entertainers such as jugglers and stilt-walkers. Kids won’t be bored for a second with magicians and face painters available to amaze and delight them and lemonade, ice cream and other savory snacks to nosh on. The site, Stephens Lake Park, offers a lakefront boardwalk perfect for enjoying a leisurely stroll, and there are woodland trails to get a close look at nature’s own artwork.

Show-Me State Games

For athletes and their fans, the opens in a new windowShow-Me State Games are the ideal proving grounds. In June, lacrosse, swimming, pickleball, soccer and volleyball are on offer. In July, the Games feature competitors in a wide variety of sports—archery, disc golf, power lifting, softball, synchronized swimming, volleyball and wrestling to name a few. Entrants want to walk away victorious, but everyone has the time of their lives, win or lose. The Games are hosted by the University of Missouri and grew out of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Health. Columbia plays host to more than 30,000 athletes competing in the Games, including contestants from nearly all of the state’s 114 counties. That means the competition is extremely challenging but the fun quotient is even higher.

Heritage Festival & Craft Show

A visit to the opens in a new windowHeritage Festival in Columbia doesn’t just turn back the clock, it turns back the calendar. Historically attired tradesmen and artisans put their skills on display, as well as their wares. It’s a rare visitor who doesn’t come away from this September festival with a handwoven basket full of handcrafted souvenirs and plenty of unique, happy memories. Entertainment on two stages gives a glimpse of the fun they had in Missouri’s early days. Back then, you couldn’t go down to the local cineplex for an afternoon double feature; people had to make their own fun. Not surprisingly, it’s still fun today to hear the singing, watch the dancing and listen to the tales of excitement and adventure relayed by gifted storytellers who seem to be left over from an age long before television and movies. On the beautiful grounds of Nifong Park, the festival leaves plenty of time to explore nature trails, the 1877 Maplewood Home and the Walters Boone County Historical Museum.

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival

As the early autumn air fills with the scents of fall, the opens in a new windowRoots N Blues N BBQ Festival adds its own savory notes of barbecue and bluesy music. Every September, masters of the twin arts of blues music and barbecuing descend on Columbia to tantalize taste buds and well-tuned ears with sweet music and food. The laid-back atmosphere is contagious at Stephens Lake Park for this September event; even the songbirds along the nature trails seem to trill along with the music, and it must be hard for the raccoons to stay hidden with the tantalizing scent of barbecue drifting on the breeze. Just as there are many barbecue recipes available, the music menu is always shifting, as well. It’s not unusual to hear gospel, rhythm & blues, country & western, swing and maybe even a touch of Dixieland for a southern tang. As night falls and both the air and the music get cool, the festival heats up with music fans flocking to the bandstand, hands raised, feet tapping and more than a few couples clearing out space to dance and dip.

Mizzou Homecoming

By the third week in October, football season is well under way, and the time has rolled around again for the opens in a new windowUniversity of Missouri Homecoming. Interestingly, it’s also known as the original homecoming—in 1911, the then athletic director put out the call for graduates to “come home” and support their alma mater in the annual rivalry game against Kansas University. Tradition doesn’t go much deeper than that. In this case, tradition also involves a pulse-pounding parade through Columbia and around campus, three big talent nights and the distribution of beautiful Homecoming Mums. And of course there’s the football game itself, a riot of color, cheering, marching band music and tailgating that together turn Missouri’s historic Faurot Field into the Midwest’s epicenter of football for the duration of this fantastic festival weekend.

opens in a new windowCheck out the festivals in Columbia

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Festivals and Events

First Friday | May 5, 6-9 PMNorth Village Arts District

Each first Friday of the month, head to the North Village Arts District for a free gallery crawl – Galleries, shops and business will be open with music, art demonstrations, children’s activities, refreshments, and much more.

opens in a new windowHeritage Weekend | May 13-14, 4-8 PM | Douglass Park

The unofficial opening of the park for the summer! Activities include balloons, table games for kids and adults, live music and family fun. Gospel in the Park will be featured on Saturday and Annette Driver will entertain on Sunday.

opens in a new windowBike, Walk and Wheel Week | May 13-21st | Columbia

Bike, Walk, and Wheel Week is a week-long celebration designed to encourage Columbians to use active modes of transportation to get around town. There will be activities for everyone, whether you’re on a bike, on your feet, or in a wheelchair.

opens in a new windowSalute to Veterans Memorial Day Celebration | May 27-29th | Columbia Regional Airport and The District

Don’t miss this annual, free airshow, featuring WWI, WWII, and present-day military aircraft, both on display and performing stunning aerobatic shows. The parade will begin at 10 AM Monday in the District, ending with a mass jump by the US Army Golden Knights and the Canadian Skyhawks into the Columbia College Athletic Field on Rangeline and Wilkes.

opens in a new windowPedaler’s Jamboree IX | May 27-28th | Leaving from Flat Branch Park 

Bicyclists will ride the MKT Trail to the Katy Trail, which they will follow into Boonville. Along the way will be stops with live music and entertainment. Bicyclists will end up at Kemper Park in Boonville, where there will be live music, food vendors, and camping overnight.

Family Fun

opens in a new windowTons of Trucks | May 10th, 4-7 PM | Columbia Mall Parking Lot

Trucks and other vehicles of all shapes and sizes will be on display for you to admire, wander around, climb on, and sit in. This event is free and held rain or shine.

opens in a new windowFishing Night | May 12th, 6-8 PM | Jefferson Farm & Garden

Bring the family for a fun night of fishing! $5 will get you a rental pole and bait, a s’more, and a drink; children 4 and younger are free.

opens in a new windowMovies in the Park | May 12th, 8:30 PM | Cosmo Park

Bring a blanket and enjoy a movie on the large, inflatable screen under the stars! Concessions and food trucks available. May’s movie is Zootopia.

opens in a new windowFamily Fun Fest | May 17th, 6-8 PM | Cosmo Park

Entertainment for the whole family, including activities, music, hands-on learning, live entertainment, face painting, food trucks and more. This month’s theme is ‘Kindness is Contagious.’ Join Parks and Rec for music, fun, crafts and activities promoting kindness and mental health.

On Stage

opens in a new window“Dark Creation, The Mary Shelley Project” | May 5-7th at 8 PM | Muse Clothing

opens in a new window“Violet” | May 5-6th at 7:30 PM and May 7th at 2 PM | Talking Horse Productions

opens in a new window“Commedia Tonight!” | May 19th at 7:30 PM | Warehouse Theatre

opens in a new window“Pump Boys & Dinettes” | May 25-28th at 8 PM | Maplewood Barn Theatre

Live Music

opens in a new windowFleetwood Mac Tribute with Orchard Fire | May 13th at 9 PM | Rose Music Hall

opens in a new windowBonobo | May 15th at 8 PM | The Blue Note

opens in a new windowLive music at Les Bourgeois | Saturdays starting May 20th, 4PM – sunset | The A-Frame

opens in a new window‘Blind’ Boone Piano Concert with Audra Sergel | May 22nd at 7:30 PM | Boone County Historical Museum

opens in a new windowShooter Jennings | May 27th at 8:30 PM | The Blue Note

opens in a new windowTech N9ne | May 30th at 8 PM | The Blue Note


Keep an eye on our calendar of events and social media for updates on May events.

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MUSIC

Jason Aldean

  opens in a new windowHinder at The Blue Note February 1, $20

‘We Always Swing’ Jazz Series presents opens in a new windowOrrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band at Missouri Theatre February 4$15-40

Jason Aldean: We Were Here Tour at Mizzou Arena February 6, opens in a new window$71-300

opens in a new windowRay Chen Violen at Missouri Theatre February 9, $16-21

Odyssey Chamber Music Series presents
opens in a new windowElizabethan Baroque at First Baptist Church February 19, $20

opens in a new windowBone Thugs-N-Harmony at The Blue Note February 21, $25

ON STAGE

opens in a new windowA Midsummer Night’s Dream | Macklanburg Playhouse | February 5-7, 12-13
Hilarity, love and confusion ensue in this beloved Shakespearean comedy. Mystical mayhem surrounds classic characters as they celebrate a wedding, fall under spells, and fall in and out of love in the forests of this magical world.

opens in a new windowPotted Sherlock | Missouri Theatre | February 8
All 60 Sherlock Holmes stories retold in 80 elementary minutes! This delicious romp through the canon of Arthur Conan Doyle is fabulous fun for the whole family.

Clifford

opens in a new windowClifford the Big Red Dog
Missouri Theatre | February 10
Clifford the Big Red Dog comes to life on stage in this interactive musical! Join Clifford, Emily Elizabeth and all their friends from Birdwell Island as they embark on an adventure filled with singing and dancing.

 

opens in a new windowA Chorus Line | Columbia Entertainment Company | February 11-14, 18-21
A Chorus Line examines, with both hilarity and heartbreak, the grueling life of ordinary performers always auditioning for an opportunity to be members of a faceless chorus line.

opens in a new windowRosencratz and Guildenstern are Dead | Rhynsburger Theatre | February 24-28
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are just trying to live their little lives when they get thrust onto the world stage and into a tragedy they can’t comprehend. Playing witty word games to pass their time offstage, they turn Shakespeare’s masterpiece into Stoppard’s existential comedy. So who’s to blame when they end up dead?

opens in a new windowThe Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds | Warehouse Theatre | February 25-28
Beatrice lashes out at daughters Tillie and Ruth, who each possess their very own eccentricities. The play’s intimate look at their lives illustrates universal human truths.

FESTIVALS

opens in a new windowThomas Hart Benton Celebration | February 2-4
The State Historical Society of Missouri, in association with the “We Always Swing” Jazz Series, presents mini-exhibition In Sync with Thomas Hart Benton, which will highlight several of Benton’s artworks that relate to music. A companion three-day Benton-centered event will also take place February 2-4

opens in a new windowFirst Friday | February 5
The first Friday of each month, the North Village Arts District will collectively open its doors, encouraging residents, visitors and tourists to explore and appreciate the ever-growing collections of art and entertainment that diversify and energize our community.

lunafest

opens in a new windowLunafest | February 6
Short film festival with wine tasting, delicious hors d’oeuvres, raffle items and more.

opens in a new windowWild & Scenic Film Fest | February 14
This sixth annual film festival, hosted by Missouri River Relief, will awe and inspire audiences to want to make a difference. Considered one of the nation’s premiere environmental and adventure film festivals, this year’s films combine stellar film making, beautiful cinematography and first-rate storytelling to inform, inspire and ignite solutions and possibilities to restore the earth and human communities while creating a positive future for the next generation.

SPECIAL EVENTS

opens in a new windowRoller Derby: Brass Knuckle Betties vs. The Astronaughties | February 6th
opens in a new windowAll the Single Ladies: An Anti-Valentine’s Day Ball | February 13
opens in a new windowSEC Swimming and Diving Championships | February 16-20
opens in a new windowPolar Plunge | February 20
opens in a new windowShow-Me State Games Hoopin’ It Up | February 26-28


These are not all of Columbia’s events for the month of February – be sure to keep an eye on our opens in a new windowcalendar of events!

 

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