By Laura (Abernathy) Huffman
As I drove north to Jefferson City both Friday and Saturday I noticed that Mother Nature has began turning the page from summer to fall. Father Time reminded me that there is more to see and do in Missouri’s rural spaces than there are weekends left in the year. Here are our recommendations of places to explore and festivals/heritage tours to experience before winter is upon us.
Cape Girardeau Heritage Days– In its second year this heritage festival is designed to immerse locals and visitors in Cape’s vibrant history. A highlight of the 2017 festival is the docking of the Columbus Foundation’s “sailing museum” on the waterfront September 29th through October 2nd. Two replica sailing ships, the Nina and the Pinta, will be available to tour for a nominal fee. The Nina replica has been described as “the most historically correct Columbus replica ever built” by Archaeology magazine. Other highlights include a living history event at Fort D Historic Civil War Site, tours and tea at the Glenn House, and tours of Old St. Vincent’s Church. The festival is held September 30th.
Fulton & Callaway County– As you cross the Missouri River on Highway 63 at Jefferson City you enter the “Kingdom of Callaway” County. A legendary nickname like that begs adventurers to discover the area. I am already a huge fan of Fulton’s Brooklyn Pizza and the annual Morels & Microbrews festival held each spring in the brick district. Population 91 returns to the area in early November to devote a weekend to explore Callaway County’s unique history, one of a kind attractions and local offerings and to indulge in Callaway eats.
Saint James– I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that STJ is ALWAYS on my radar. This charming Route 66 town is destined for a tourism boom. During last weekend’s Grape and Fall Festival Missouri Pizza Company opened to a packed house and rave reviews. The venue itself gives the joint a vibe that will excite foodies. It reminded me of locations in Kansas City’s Light & Power district. Owner Bubba Cunningham’s didn’t rush his idea straight to the market. He researched the intricacies of wood fired pizza and refined his concept and recipes before presenting Instagram worthy pies to the public. Nearby, Marketplace Cafe is also racking up a bounty of five star reviews. Marketplace Cafe specializes in putting the Farmers Market philosophy into your order. Sandwiches, soups, salads, and sweets are the mainstay of their menu. Owner Deborah Kleinheider has forty soups in rotation at the cafe. The best-selling loaded baked potato soup is on the menu daily.
Meramec River Wine Trail– Missouri wine lovers may recognize many of the wineries that make up the Meramec River Wine Trail. Recently, eight wineries in Crawford and Phelps counties banded together to market their wine region that is “nestled between the beauty of the Ozark Highlands and the picturesque waterways of the Meramec River.” Belmont Vineyards, located on Historic Route 66, between Leasburg and Cuba offers ten wines in a tasting room inspired by old world Europe. Heinrichshaus Vineyards and Winery produces seven varieties of wine. Eagle’s Landing Winery products are available exclusively at Just A Taste in Saint James. Meramec Vineyards, the first female owned winery in Missouri, produces 15 wines from their St. James vineyard. Although temporarily closed due to a fire, Peaceful Bend owners Clyde Gill and Katie Nott are dedicated to reopening their winery to the public as soon as possible. Nott also serves as secretary of the MRWT. Red Moose Vineyard established in 2006 by the Leitner families offers over ten wines produced from their vineyard near Salem. St. James Winery started production in 1970 and is well known for their fruit forward style. Three Squirrels Winery, housed in a former dairy barn, is both a winery and an art gallery. The winery features 5 wines- 3 reds and two whites. Watch for a more in-depth article from Population 91 about MRWT in October.
Flaming Fall Revue– 23 miles of of Missouri’s only National Scenic Byway entice leaf peepers to the showy display of blazing reds and oranges in a smoke tree stand near Ava in the southwestern part of the state. The vibrant autumn colors are definitely the star of the show. Since 1961, Ava Area Chamber of Commerce and partners have celebrated Mother Nature’s display with music and barbecue at the Caney Mountain picnic site on the third Sunday in October.
Should your town, restaurant, festival, or historic site be on #Pop91’s radar? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!