There’s more than cooler temperatures and colorful foliage coming to Missouri this fall. Hundreds of events will celebrate the season with food and drink, local culture, living history and live entertainment. Popular festivals – plus major new attractions set to open in the months ahead – make it a perfect time to plan a trip in the Show-Me State.
Here are some events to consider.
• Hundreds of jack-o’-lanterns will come to life with the lighting of Great Pumpkin Mountain during the Pony Express PumpkinFest Oct. 11-13 in St. Joseph. The arts festival will include a children’s costume parade, rides, games, crafts and food.
• Missouri-made barbecue, bacon, bourbon and beer are the focus at the aptly named Pig and Swig festival Nov. 9 in Kansas City. Live music, mechanical bull riding, life-size board games and more will round out the event in Kansas City’s Power & Light District.
• Octoberfest in Old Munichburg, Sept. 27-28 in Jefferson City, will feature the state’s largest Dachshund Derby and costume contest. The celebration of German heritage in the Capital City’s historic southside will include a wine and beer garden, craft demonstrations, kids activities, a car show and fall foods.
• Two of Missouri’s richest traditions – blues and barbecue – are combined for one of the state’s premier music festivals, Roots N Blues N BBQ, Sept. 27-29 in Columbia. More than 30 national, regional and local musicians representing all genres of American roots music are on tap to perform. Award-winning barbecue and interactive art add to the experience.
• Visitors to the Spirit of St. Louis Air Show and STEM Expo, Sept. 7-8 in Chesterfield, will have their eyes on the sky to see the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, Royal Air Force Jet Team and other aviation performers piloting historic and modern aircraft. On the ground, interactive exhibits and activities will highlight science, technology, engineering and math.
• For three weekends in October, a group of “paranormal poltergeists” will entertain visitors during Legends and Lanterns, a spirited journey through Halloween history in historic downtown St. Charles. Witches, villains and phantoms will offer more treats than tricks during the family-friendly event.
• Tour a historic four-story mill at the Bollinger Mill Fall Festival Sept. 28 near Burfordville. The mill is located next to one of only four remaining covered bridges in the state. Festivalgoers are invited to bring old clothes to build their own scarecrow. Antique tractors will be on display and a bluegrass band will perform in the afternoon.
• The historic town of Caledonia features fall’s favorite squash during its annual Pumpkin Festival, set for Oct. 12 this year. Events will include a pumpkin recipe contest, crafting, seed spitting and pie eating. Visitors can hop on a hayride for a trip to the corn maze and pumpkin patch.
• Japanese culture will be on display as Springfield celebrates its sister city, Isesaki, Japan, during the Japanese Fall Festival Sept. 6-8. Performers, martial arts demonstrations and vendors will fill the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden in Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park.
• Carthage has been celebrating fall’s colorful maple trees for more than 50 years. The Maple Leaf Festival runs throughout the month of October, but the event’s biggest day, Oct. 19, will feature a parade, marching band festival, arts and crafts, carnival, car show, tractor show and live entertainment.
- Wilder Day, Sept. 21, Mansfield: Celebrate the beloved “Little House” books and author Laura Ingalls Wilder, who lived most of her adult life in Missouri. The annual event at Laura and husband Almanzo’s Rocky Ridge Farm will include tours of the Wilder’s home and a fiddling contest.
• One of the biggest new attractions opening in Missouri this year will transform the 125-year-old St. Louis Union Station. First up, the St. Louis Wheel – a 200-foot observation wheel with 42 fully enclosed, climate-controlled gondolas, set to open in mid-October. The 1.3 million gallon St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station will make its debut later this year. Other attractions opening soon at Union Station include a classic carousel, ropes course, mini golf and new restaurants.
• Silver Dollar City is revamping and expanding its popular fall festival this year. Craft Days and Pumpkin Nights, Sept. 25-Oct. 26, will showcase the talent of hundreds of artisans demonstrating their craft plus thousands of pumpkins, giant scarecrows and other fall-themed, family-friendly attractions. The pumpkins will light up the Branson theme park during extended evening hours.
• J. Reiger & Co. recently opened a 60,000-square-foot distillery, hospitality center and exhibit area in the historic Electric Park neighborhood in Kansas City. A tour of the facility describes how the company, founded in 1887, reopened nearly 100 years after closing its doors during the dawn of Prohibition. Visitors can take a ride on a two-story slide down through the 18th century building.
For more information about fall festivals and events in Missouri visit www.visitmo.com/articles/fall-is-prime-festival-time-in-the-show-me-state. Find attractions, lodging and trip ideas at VisitMO.com.
About the Missouri Division of Tourism
The Missouri Division of Tourism works to showcase Missouri experiences through compelling storytelling to inspire travel, support healthy communities and strengthen the state’s economy. In fiscal year 2018, Missouri welcomed 42 million visitors and saw $13.5 billion in tourism-related spending.