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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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Celebrate Mizzou’s 106th Homecoming this weekend as the Tigers take on the Idaho Vandals, Saturday at 11 AM.

University of Missouri Homecoming


Looking for a hotel room? If you’re having a hard time finding a room, call the City Contact Center at 573-874-CITY (2489) and ask for hotel availability.


  • Park downtown [parking garages are free on Saturdays] and walk to the stadium
  • Park downtown and catch a shuttle to the stadium
  • Check to see if your hotel is on a shuttle route

Shuttle information and routes can be found at

{Shuttles cost $1.50 each way, exact change is needed}

Wear Gold: Find new game day gear here:

Pizza Tree

Grab a bite to eat: Look through our list of restaurants located in  opens in a new windowThe District for lunch or dinner before the game.

Be prepared: be sure to follow the bag policy; the following options are allowed into the stadium:

  • Bags must be clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC and not exceeding 12″ x 6″ x 12″
  • One-gallon, clear plastic freezer bags
  • Small clutch bags that do not exceed 4.5″ x 6.5″
  • An institutionally approved logo no larger than 4.5″ x 3.4″ on one side of permissible clear bag


A few tailgating notes:

  • Tailgating sites open at 8 AM
  • Tiger Walk occurs 2 hours and 30 minutes before kick off – this year Tiger Walk will begin at the corner of Mick Deaver and Champions Dr. and will be followed by a free concert from The Gin Blossoms in the free fan fest area on Mick Deaver Drive, east of the stadium.

tiger walk route

  • The stadium opens 90 minutes before kick off
  • Keep any pets on a leash
  • Drones are not allowed to be flown on campus
  • If you don’t have your own, ask a parking attendant for a free blue recycling bag
  • Make sure you have designated drivers if you serve alcohol at your tailgate
  • Just follow the rules and have fun!

Make this: Sausage and Cream Cheese Biscuit Bitessausage and cream cheese biscuit cups

Our  opens in a new windowTiger Tailgating Pinterest board has more ideas for game day recipes, tailgating tips and games, and more.


Decorate the District: Mosey downtown to see how good Tiger Pride looks on Columbia.

Campus Decorations: Enjoy delicious food from local Columbia vendors while checking out fraternities’ and sororities’ 2017 Campus Decs.

Step Show: See the NPHC fraternities and sororities as they host the annual Homecoming Step Show.

Spirit Rally: Rev up for the big game with Truman the Tiger, the Mizzou Spirit Squads, and Marching Mizzou.

Parade: Find a spot on the parade route to see flashy floats, fancy cars, and band music.

Campus decoration locations


We hope you’ll take some extra time to explore Columbia while you’re here for the game! Here’s what is going on around town this weekend:


“Blithe Spirit” Friday-Saturday 7:30 PM and Sunday 2 PM
Macklanburg Playhouse
Charles Condomine, a fussy and cantankerous novelist, encounters the ghost of his late first wife through the happy medium of Madame Arcati. Personalities clash, humor ensues and blithe spirits haunt the hapless Charles into perpetuity.

“The Gin Game” Friday-Saturday 7:30 PM and Sunday 2 PM
Talking Horse Productions
Weller Martin and Fonsia Dorsey discover they both dislike their nursing home and enjoy gin rummy, so they begin to play and to reveal intimate details of their lives. Soon their secrets become weapons used against one another.


tom petty

Celebration of the Life and Music of Tom Petty Friday 9 PM 
Rose Music Hall

The Flood Brothers Saturday 6 PM 
The Station House


rocheport oktoberfest III

Rocheport Oktoberfest III: A Free Music and Beer Fest Saturday 12-9 PM
Rocheport Oktoberfest returns! This year there will be more beer variety, more vendors, and more fun! This FREE event will feature live music from noon until 9pm!

Orr Street Farmers and Artisans Market Sunday 9-1 PM
Wabash Station Parking Lot
Produce, art, jewelry, crafts, music by Austin Jones and the Bootheel Boys, and Ozark Mountain Biscuit Food Truck.

Rocheport Fall Colors Trail Ride Sunday 10 AM
MKT Trail at Scott Blvd
Wrap up your weekend with a scenic 26-mile trail ride along the Missouri River to Rocheport. Plan to bring or purchase lunch on your own at a Rocheport restaurant. Return with the group or at your own pace. Trail side support will be provided for minor maintenance issues.


Stop by 300 S. Providence Monday-Friday, 8AM-5PM
Call 573-874-CITY (2489)
Tweet us @VisitColumbiaMO

Tag your photos  opens in a new window#ShowMeCoMo!

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The Mizzou opens in a new windowTigers kick off this Saturday, 3:00 PM at Memorial Stadium against the Middle Tennessee opens in a new windowBlue Raiders. Happy Homecoming, Tigers!


Photo from opens in a new windowMizzou Facebook.


Looking for a hotel room? Homecoming means that some of our hotels have been sold out for months. Call us at 573-875-1231 and ask for hotel availability.

How to get to the stadium:

{Shuttles cost $1.50 each way, and beverages/coolers are not allowed so be mindful of that before boarding}

Throw on your black and gold! If you want/need new black and gold gear, check out:


Grab a bite to eat: look through our list of restaurants located in opens in a new windowThe District for lunch before the game or dinner afterward.

Weather: As of today (Tuesday), the opens in a new windowforecast is calling for sunshine and a high of 70 – not bad for a mid-October day in Missouri.

Where to watch: If you didn’t get tickets or would rather watch the game on TV, see our list of  opens in a new windowsports bars.


Mizzou is said to be the birthplace of Homecoming [read about the opens in a new windowhistory behind it], so this week is kind of a big deal in Columbia. Here is a list of Homecoming activities for you to check out while you’re here:

opens in a new windowTalent Show
October 17-19, 6:30 PM at Jesse Auditorium

opens in a new windowCampus Decorations
October 21, 6-9 PM in Greektown

opens in a new windowStep Show
October 21, 7:30 PM at Jesse Auditorium

opens in a new windowSpirit Rally
October 21, 8:30 PM at Traditions Plaza

opens in a new windowParade
October 22, 9 AM


Extra: Each participating student organization will be partnered with a local establishment in downtown Columbia to decorate their storefront with Mizzou spirit. Take a stroll through The District during the weekend to see the creativity of current students.


A few tailgating notes:

  • Tailgating sites open at 8 AM
  • (12:30 PM) Tiger Walk occurs 2 hours and 30 minutes before kick off at the pedestrian bridge over Providence
  • (1:30 PM) The stadium opens 90 minutes before kick off
  • Remember to keep any pets on a leash
  • Just opens in a new windowfollow the rules and have fun!

Our opens in a new windowTiger Tailgating Pinterest board has ideas for game day recipes, tailgating tips and games, and more.

We’re liking the look of this Jalapeno Popper Dip [ opens in a new windowget the recipe]:



We have a lot more events than just Homecoming going on this weekend. You can find more information on live music (including Dierks Bentley), on-stage performances, farmers markets, sporting events, and more on our opens in a new windowcalendar of events. We would love for you to spend some extra time here with us!

Contact us if you have any questions:

Stop by 300 S. Providence Monday-Friday, 8AM-5PM
Call us at 573-875-1231
Tweet us @ColumbiaMOCVB

Tag your photos opens in a new window#ShowMeCoMo!

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When Chester Brewer invited opens in a new windowMizzou alumni to ‘come home’ for the football game against Kansas in 1911, no one could have guessed what a national sensation homecoming would be over 100 years later.  What began on Rollins Field on the University of Missouri campus is now a beloved tradition at Memorial Stadium and at schools across the country.

The first Mizzou homecoming football game in 1911.

Join us on our blog opens in a new windowGameday in Columbia this week to celebrate and embrace Mizzou’s most cherished tradition, homecoming.

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