Missouri Offers Diverse Lineup of Fall Festivals for 2008

By Guest Contributor


Missouri’s fall festivals provide plenty of reasons to travel the Show-Me State this autumn, with festivities celebrating the joy of the harvest, the state’s rich cultural heritage and the adventure of the great outdoors.

The following is a sampling of the fairs and festivals taking place in Missouri this fall.

Apple Festivals

The Annual Weston Applefest Celebration marks its 20th anniversary with fall favorites, such as pressed cider, apple dumplings and homemade apple butter cooked over an open fire.  Artisan crafters show their wares.  Oct. 4-5.

The Apples, Arts and Antiques Festival in Lexington’s historic downtown offers an apple bake-off and an apple auction to benefit Court Appointed Special Advocates (C.A.S.A.) for children.  Then, join the pickers and the fiddlers for an old fashioned barn dance.  Oct. 4-5.

The apple butter at the Mt. Vernon’s Apple Butter Makin’ Days is cooked, in time-honored tradition, in copper kettles over open flames.  Period costumes impart an old-time charm.  Apple dumplings, caramel apples, kettle corn and bratwurst are all on the menu.  Oct. 10-12.

Saxon’s Fall Festival features apple butter cooked in 30 gallon copper kettles, demonstrations of arts and crafts and plenty of delicious local foods.  The Kinderchor children’s choir adds sweet music to the festivities.  Oct. 11.

Shake the fall chill with a warm mug of apple cider at the 29th annual Clarksville Applefest.  The event commences with a parade and continues with an apple pie contest, arts, crafts, antique shows, and a fiddlers’ contest.  Oct. 11-12.

Satisfy your sweet tooth with homemade apple butter at the 47th annual Cuba Fest.  Or, if you’re in the mood for something spicy, visit Cuba’s famous chili cook-off.  Cuisine from local restaurants and wine tastings are also on the menu.  If you have time, catch a free trolley tour of Route 66 murals.  Oct. 18-19.

More than 100,000 visitors make the trip to Kimmswick for the town’s Apple Butter Festival—one of the largest events in Jefferson County.  Take home a jar of the Historical Society’s famous apple butter or check out the craft booths and live entertainment.  Oct. 25-26.

Oktoberfest Celebrations

Kansas City’s Oktoberfest is held at Crown Center and Union Station and features live music, food, beer and activities such as woodcarving and pig racing.  Don’t miss the fireworks show on Friday night.  Sept. 26-28.

Hermann celebrates its rich German heritage with traditional music, dancing and foods at this full-scale Oktoberfest celebration.  Enjoy grilled brats and kraut with locally made beers.  Stop by the area’s many local wineries and microbreweries for beer and wine samples, food, music and more.  Every weekend in October.

The 18th Annual Black Forest Village Oktoberfest near Cape Girardeau offers traditional craft demonstrations, dulcimer playing and a bountiful assortment of fall foods.  Oct. 11-12.

Visit Cole Camp’s historic south side German neighborhood, Old Munichburg, for Oktoberfest and Prairie Day, held in honor of the town’s German roots.  The festival, which features authentic food and drink, music and dancing, also includes a dachshund derby, parade, car show and crafts.  Oct 11.

Harvest Festivals

Silver Dollar City in Branson welcomes more than 100 visiting crafters and 400 of the nation’s finest musicians to the National Harvest Festival.  The theme park’s signature stage show, “Headin’ West” keeps toes tapping.  Visitors can also visit the new Culinary and Craft School or, during the month of October, learn about our agrarian roots at “Salute to the American Farmer.” Sept. 11-Oct. 25.

Get lost in a 10-acre corn maze at Springfield’s Harvest Fest, located at Rutledge-Wilson Farm Community Park, the newest addition to the Springfield Parks Program.  A pumpkin patch and kids’ activities will keep the little ones entertained.  Harvest Fest also includes demonstrations of sheep shearing, horseshoeing and dog herding, as well as craft booths, American Indian food samples and more.  Sept. 27-28.

The Maple Leaf Festival in Carthage draws more than 50,000 visitors annually.  The highlight of the festival, now in its 42nd year, is the parade—one of the largest in southwest Missouri.  Other activities include a baby contest, lip synch contest, petting zoo, dog show and auto show.  Oct. 11-18.

Missouri Heritage Festivals

Handmade crafts and mouth-watering foods from more than 200 different vendors draw visitors to Trenton’s Missouri Day Festival.  A quilt show, car show, baby show and an old-time box supper round out the weekend.  Oct. 18-19.

Experience life as it was during the mid-1800s at Hannibal’s 32nd annual Autumn Historic Folklife Festival.  Sample cider fresh from the apple press and traditional foods cooked on wood-burning stoves.  Oct. 18-19.

Travel back in time to the 1800s at Warsaw’s 29th Annual Heritage Days.  Visit a one-room schoolhouse, learn what it was like to live in a log cabin, and check out the handmade crafts offered by more than 175 crafters.  Oct. 18-19.

The 24th Annual Country Colorfest, held in Louisiana’s picturesque Rivertown area, celebrates the city’s 190 years of “colorful history.” Watch the parade, stop by the fire department’s fish fry, take in the shows and competitions, or swing by the Elks’ barbeque and beer garden.  Oct. 18-19.

Step into the past at Missouri Town 1855 Festival of Arts, Crafts and Music at Lake Jacomo in Lee’s Summit. The reconstructed buildings and landscape at Missouri Town lend an authentic feel to the event. Period games, crafts, storytelling and children’s activities are all on the schedule.  Oct. 4-5.

Halloween Festivals

Don’t miss the lighting of the “Great Pumpkin Mountain” at St. Joseph’s PumpkinFest.  Eight hundred jack-o’-lanterns, stacked 25 pumpkins high, are lighted at the flip of a switch. Festival rides, pumpkin games, food and a children’s costume contest offer fun for all ages.  Oct. 10-12.

Independence’s Mystic Pumpkin Festival delights young and old alike with games, costume contests, storytelling, pumpkin carving, live entertainment, haunted fire trucks and more.  Oct. 25.

Take the little ghouls and goblins to the Platte City Community Center North’s Trunk and Treat, a frightfully fun Halloween party.  Oct. 24.

This isn’t your everyday costume contest.  Join the St. Clair Saddle Club for its Costume Class Horse Contest, an equine Halloween costume competition.  Oct. 25.

The Great Outdoors

For the fishing enthusiast, the 45th Annual Rose Holland Trout Derby promises a fun-filled weekend.  Fish for tagged trout, visit the country store, sample homemade baked goods, and participate in the “Hike for Your Heart” at this outdoor event at Montauk State Park.  Oct. 4-5.

Doniphan’s Ripley County Fairgrounds is home to the Third Annual Ozark Regional Timberfest, a festival celebrating the timber industry’s history and influence in the region. This lively event includes a lumberjack show, loggers relay and draft horse pull.  Oct. 10-11.

The Annual Eldon Turkey Festival celebrates the town’s status as one of the nation’s top producers of domestic turkeys and its abundant wild turkey population.  The festival features events such as frozen turkey bowling, a turkey pot pie eating contest, the Turkey Trot, Gobble 5K and more.  Oct. 11-23.

Journey down to Kennett in the state’s Bootheel for the Waterfowl Festival and Outdoor Show in the Mississippi Flyway.  Hunters, outdoor enthusiasts and their families have access to more than 250,000 acres of rice farms developed to attract ducks and geese.  Come hear world champion duck callers, watch waterdog teams in action, and listen to animal entertainers and storytellers.  Oct. 31-Nov. 1.


Choose from more than 200 wines and sample top-notch cuisine from the area’s finest restaurants at the St. Louis Wine Festival in Forest Park.  Learn about new wine varieties and attend cooking demonstrations by talented local chefs.  Sept. 27-28.

For those who appreciate fine wine and the sultry sound of jazz, the Eighth Annual Wine and Jazz Festival at the Elms Resort and Spa in Excelsior Springs is a can’t miss event. Sample 10 delicious wines from around the world, stroll the grounds, and view the works of talented artists and crafters.  Oct. 11.


More than 500 teams compete annually at Kansas City’s American Royal Barbeque, thought to be the world’s largest barbeque competition, also called “The World Series of Barbeques.” Pork ribs and roasts, beef brisket and chicken are smothered in secret recipe sauces at this tasty event. The public festival also features backyard barbeque games and a “Barbecuelooza” music festival.  Oct. 3-4.

Enjoy delicious barbeque while listening to the tunes of nationally known musicians performing bluegrass, blues, Appalachian folk and gospel at the Roots ’N Blues ’N BBQ Festival in Columbia.  Oct. 3-4.

For more information on Missouri attractions and activities, go to http://www.VisitMO.com or call 800-519-4800 for additional information.

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