Our roundup of the most unexpected things Columbia has to offer.
Best of CoMo 2015
John Kumia, a kumu hula (master dancer), arrived in Missouri in 1994, having left his native Hawaii in search of work. Kumia, an administrative assistant in the School of Medicine, brought to the United States his skills not only in hula dancing but also in traditional chanting and lei-making. He has mentored two hula apprentices through the Mizzou-based Missouri Folk Arts Program (MFAP), which celebrates its 30th anniversary in fiscal 2015. During the past three decades, with funding from the Missouri Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, MFAP has funded more than 200 master-apprentice pairs to carry forward traditions including chairmaking, storytelling, weaving, fiddling, blacksmithing and shape-note singing. The masters, who receive a small stipend, meet weekly with their apprentices from October to June. Then apprentices present their work. “The arts are an important expression of our humanity,” says Higgins, PhD ’08, who directs the program, “and these masters are ordinary citizens of genius.”
Gonga the Gorilla has been known to play the accordion at Mizzou’s Speakers Circle to promote The Textbook Game. Speakers Circle, a campus locale dedicated to permit-free public assembly and free speech, hosts buskers, thespians, protesters, safety demonstrations, hacky sackers, fund raisers and soul savers.
Artisanal ales, lagers and stouts are effervescing throughout town. For discerning imbibers, Logboat Brewing Co. is the hip new place to hoist a pint. Warehoused in a gorgeously refurbished 4,500-square-foot facility at 504 Fay St. and surrounded by versatile green space (bocce ball, anyone?), Logboat’s brewery and tasting room features four sudsy standbys, including Mamoot, an English-mild style ale that won a silver medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival in Denver.
“We wanted Logboat to be an educational experience where people can see us working and learn how beer is made,” says co-owner Tyson Hunt, who invites local food trucks to the premises to provide dining options. “It’s a cozy, fun place where you can enjoy good conversation and good beer.”
Entrepreneurs Hunt, BS BA ’02; Judson Ball; and Andrew Sharp opened shop in May 2014 and three months later hosted the inaugural South East Craft Beer Fest, which showcased microbreweries from across SEC territory. The second installment is set for Aug. 15, 2015. CoMo competition abounds with restaurant Broadway Brewery at 816 E. Broadway, the city’s newest brewery and tasting room Bur Oak Brewing Co. at 8250 Trade Center Drive, 20-year-old favorite Flat Branch Pub & Brewing at 115 S. Fifth St., and regional can and keg distributor Rock Bridge Brewing Co. at 1330 E. Prathersville Road.
While an MU student, Michael Urban, BA ’05, regularly drove to Jefferson City, Missouri, for his doughnut fix. Each time, he thought, “Why am I driving an hour from a college town to get a doughnut?” He decided if he was ever to start a business, it would be a doughnut shop in Columbia. In 2014, his deep-fried, sugar-sprinkled and sometimes berry-infused dream came true with the opening of Harold’s Doughnuts at 114 S. Ninth St. (formerly The Rome restaurant). Some of his unusual made-from-scratch doughnut creations include maple bacon; blueberry-lemon citrus; and the Fauronut, a glazed “tiger” claw drizzled with chocolate and caramel icing. Around the corner, Strange Donuts, a St. Louis-based business, is scheduled to bring its unique menu — highlighted by the gooey butter doughnut — to Columbia in February 2015. It will share the southwest corner of Hitt Street and Broadway with Seoul Taco, a Korean fusion restaurant also based in St. Louis.
During the total eclipse Aug. 21, 2017, much of Missouri will be dark. But it’ll be astrophysicist Angela Speck’s day in the sun. Speck, professor of astronomy, says that in Missouri the sun will be totally blocked on a path between St. Joseph and Cape Girardeau, and the whole United States will experience a partial eclipse. In Columbia, the eclipse will hit around 1 p.m., and she hopes to fill Memorial Stadium, providing safety glasses so all can safely view the spectacle.
With a bull’s-eye location in mid-Missouri’s agricultural oasis, Columbians have myriad options for locally produced food.
In the near-downtown space previously occupied by Osco Drug at 111 S. Providence Road, Columbia welcomed Lucky’s Market in January 2014. The store offers local and organic foods in addition to its in-house bakery, deli and private-label coffee.
A weekly box from the Root Cellar at 1023 E. Walnut St. could include the Bounty (fruits and vegetables), Barnyard (dairy and meat) or Ploughman’s (a variety of meat, dairy and produce) for about $35.
During summer and early fall, Columbia boasts three farmers markets: the Boone County Farmers Market at 1005 W. Worley St., the Columbia Farmers Market at 1701 W. Ash St. and the North Village Arts District Farmers & Artisans Market at 126 N. 10th St. Vendors sell everything from soap to Swiss chard and persimmons to pork chops.
When Aaro Froese, BA ’92, was a student at MU, he worked for the Nostalgia Shop, organizing its costume inventory. Today, as the owner of
Gotcha at 819 E. Walnut St., Froese has seen some interesting getups. Of the more than “a gillion with a ‘g’ ” costumes stocked at the shop, the gorilla is his favorite. “You can always add stuff to it — cameras for gorilla marketing or camo for gorilla warfare.”
Since 1874, a ghost has wandered The Residence on Francis Quadrangle, writes Mary Barile, MA ’05, PhD ’09, administrative consultant in the office of research at MU, in The Haunted Boonslick: Ghosts, Ghouls and Monsters of Missouri’s Heartland (The History Press, 2011). The wraith is that of Alice Read, a popular figure on campus and wife of university President Daniel Read.
Hardly a work shift goes by that someone doesn’t ask Delia Rainey about the legendary, short-lived Cicada Ice Cream of 2011. The crunchy, chocolate-covered critters at Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream at 21 S. Ninth St. made national news (NPR, Huffington Post, LA Times), and Rainey says the story is regularly revived online on sites such as BuzzFeed. Though cicadas haven’t made it back on the menu, Sparky’s ice cream creators haven’t lost their flair for the surprising. “Beef jerky ice cream — that was gross,” says Rainey, an MU senior majoring in English. “But bacon and ice cream are surprisingly good. If we make anything with Nutella in it, it will immediately sell out.” Sparky’s has been partnering with Harold’s Doughnuts (see letter “D”) for tasty concoctions such as the “cinnarollnut.”
Junk is just a nickname for items reused, recycled, resold, redistributed or otherwise given new life through Mizzou programs, local nonprofit organizations, and traditional antique and vintage stores. Mizzou’s Tiger Treasures program, which sells items students donate before leaving for the summer, diverted 19 tons of materials from the landfill in 2014. MU’s Surplus Properties department picks up items departments no longer need, sells them to other departments or at auction, and returns about $500,000 to university departments annually. Beyond Mizzou’s boundaries, Restore, a division of Show-Me Central Habitat for Humanity, helps individuals and contractors donate building materials that are salvaged or overstocked. The materials go to build houses for low-income families or are sold to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity. For those who prefer a more traditional recycling of previously loved goods, Columbia is chock-a-block with antique stores and vintage shops, including Midway Antique Mall (375 booths) and Artichoke Annie’s (210 booths and showcases), Absolute Vintage and Maude Vintage.
Mizzou’s student-run radio station was named one of the best Internet radio stations by The Telegraph. With shows such as Dead or Canadian and Pet Rock Parade, the station was lauded for its “tastefully curated range of music.” The students also run a professional recording studio for musicians that costs $17 an hour to use.
The late John Williams, PhD ’54, grew up in Arkansas and spent his career at the University of Denver, but it was Columbia and MU that featured as a backdrop for his novel Stoner (New York Review Books Classics, 2006). The book took an unusual road to stardom. Originally published in 1965, it was thoroughly ignored during Williams’ lifetime. Since 2011, however, the thoughtful, sanguinely bleak academic novel has become a bestseller in Europe. Keen alumni readers will notice a few fictionalized campus details — Williams subtracted one Column and reoriented Jesse Hall and Francis Quadrangle 90 degrees to align east-west rather than north-south.
For the past 20 holiday seasons, Randy Fletcher has hauled out his ladder and tubs of Christmas lights — now numbering 44 — and wrapped a lucky “Magic Tree” in brilliant hues from trunk to branch tip. What has become a CoMo tradition started as a simple question. Fletcher had seen lots of tree trunks wrapped in lights and wondered, why stop there? He strung a few “fingers of light” on the branches of his front-yard crab apple tree and got rave reviews. Each year thereafter he’s made it a little better.
“My wish is that people are not just awed by colorful lights but are inspired more deeply in the heart,” he says. In 2011, Randy moved the Magic Tree from his yard to the Village of Cherry Hill square in southwest Columbia. The 2014 edition took Fletcher and his son, Micah, a junior in biological sciences at Mizzou, 60 hours to wrap with 33,400 incandescent and LED mini-lights. Fletcher also decorates smaller trees in town: one in front of the downtown Shakespeare’s and another at the Unity Center, 1600 W. Broadway.
Named by Forbes Magazine as one of the Best Small Places for Business and Careers, Columbia is now home to: Boone Olive Oil Co., which opened at 20 S. Ninth St. in April 2014 and sells more than 45 extra virgin olive oils and vinegars including cranberry pear white balsamic vinegar and infused cayenne chili olive oil; Umbria Rustic Italian, which opened at 903 Elm St., Suite 108 in August 2014; and Pizza Tree, which opened at 909 Cherry St. in October 2014 and slings pies such as the Banh Mi, featuring Sriracha-glazed pork belly, house-made kimchee, chili aioli and cilantro.
Tucked just south of the Business Loop near I-70 is Mugs Up, a well-kept secret on a little-known street, 603 Orange St. Since 1955, customers have been enjoying carhop-served root beer, chilidogs and zip burgers from the retro eatery barely bigger than a school bus. Owned by Larry and Kay Kewley and managed by son Brandon, the CoMo classic is open from February or March (depending on the weather) to Halloween and closed during the winter months.
On Feb. 8, 2014, nearly 400 Columbians dove into the frigid Stephens Lake, raising more than $74,000 for the Special Olympics Missouri Polar Plunge. Some daring divers donned costumes, but the bravest of plungers — including the members of MIZPBP, or Mizzou Polar Bear Plunge — sported bikinis and board shorts. Mizzou’s Sigma Chi was among the top fundraising groups with $6,111. In 2015, Special Olympics Missouri hopes to bring in $80,000.
The True/False Film Fest celebrates its 12th year March 5–8, 2015, again bringing its cavalcade of thought-provoking documentary films to Columbia. You’re bound to find something that piques your interest among more than 40 films. But if a coveted flick sells out, just hop in the “Q” and look for the Queen. She (or he) of the resplendent garb will be passing out Q numbers, your potential golden ticket to get in the door.
Cooper’s Landing Riverside Resort and Marina offers a little bit of everything: a full-service boat dock, marina and campground located at 11505 Smith Hatchery Road right off the Katy Trail and Missouri River about 10 miles south of Jesse Hall, not to mention live music, drinks, Chim’s Thai Kitchen (the best pad Thai and mango sticky rice served from a trailer you’ll ever eat), smoked meats and homestyle sides in the country store. And we still haven’t gotten to the campfires and sunsets. Oh, the sunsets.
It was a stroke of municipal whimsy when artists nationwide started painting fire hydrants as Dalmatians, Super Marios and the like. Here in CollegeTown USA, the city is decorating storm drains to remind passers-by that pollution entering the drains moves quickly into local waterways. Columbia artists, including MU graduates (Jane Mudd, MFA ’94; Ben Chlapek, BFA ’07; Mike Sleadd, BFA ’94; Jenny McGee, BS HES ’92; Dennis Murphy, BFA ’85), painted nine downtown stormwater drains. Check them out at showmeboone.com.
Outside of Conservation Hall in the Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building lurk a caribou, black rhinoceros, cape buffalo, warthog and 40 other exotic animals. No worries — they’re stuffed. Donated to the School of Natural Resources by the late Phil Yeckel, BJ ’33, the educational exhibit presents interesting tidbits about each of its wildlife specimens. Down the hall are 287 stuffed specimens that make up the Glen Smart Collection of Waterfowl and Upland Game Birds.
For truth stranger than fiction, readers can turn to Mizzou 175: The Remarkable Story of Missouri’s Flagship University from 1839 to 2014 (Kansas City Star Books, 2014) by Brian Burnes, BJ ’76. The doctor-lawyer-minister-mathematician-inventor-university president who was fired because of a stuffed elephant is a particularly bizarre vignette.
Tailgating is a rite of passage at Mizzou. But Veronica Lemme, MPA ’06, a student recruitment specialist for the Department of Health Management and Informatics, and husband Darvin Lemme found another gear when they purchased a 25-foot 1980 Holiday Rambler trailer in 2000. Its custom black-and-gold paint and creature comforts (TV, bathroom, kitchenette) make it popular with students who drop by the couple’s spot at Truman’s Landing, formerly Reactor Field.
“We have never taken it to a road game,” Darvin says. “But it has been to a state park in every U.S. state.”
Weird Al Yankovic rocked and mocked at Ninth Street Summerfest in 2013, but he wasn’t the first or last eccentric act to come to town. For something a little more offbeat than the average Shakespeare play or Broadway musical, check out these upcoming shows. Hosted by the University Concert Series, Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience is a 70-minute spoof crash course in all seven books (7 p.m. March 31 at Missouri Theatre). The Columbia Entertainment Company, now in its 36th season, is performing the play Duck Hunter Shoots Angel by Mitch Albom (April 9–12, 16–19, 23–26 at the Columbia Entertainment Company Community Theatre). Duck Hunter isn’t going to leave you heartbroken and teary-eyed like Tuesdays with Morrie, but the comedy about two blundering Alabama brothers might leave you cheery and teary-eyed — from laughing.
Chi Omega has been on Mizzou’s campus since 1913. Over the years, they’ve come up with a few bizarre traditions. Lisa Puettmann Hunt, BS BA ’86, of St. Louis remembers the C-H-I Street Circle. Whenever the girls found cause for celebration, they would start making the Chi Omega call: a low, rumbling “ooh.” “That was your cue to stop what you were doing, chime in and run out the front door onto Burnam Avenue,” Hunt says. Cars honked and people cheered as the 80-plus women formed a huge circle and sang the song.
Whether you’re walking, jogging or biking, Columbia offers no better place to get your wellness on than the Katy Trail. But to take your workout to new heights, try aerial yoga — you’ll still do downward-facing dog, but you’ll be supported by a fabric hammock suspended from the ceiling à la Cirque du Soleil. In addition to looking really cool, the anti-gravity workout decompresses tight joints and improves blood circulation. Wilson’s Fitness Centers (2902 Forum Blvd., 2601 Rangeline) and Yoga Sol (210B St. James St.) offer aerial yoga classes.
M-I-Z, Z-O-U! Like the nickname “Mizzou,” details about the origin of the chant that spells it aloud are a little fuzzy. Marching Mizzou alumnus John Thiel, BJ, BJ ’80, JD ’86, remembers Tiger cheerleaders in 1976 taking a cue from Ohio State’s “O-H, I-O!” cheer. After a handful of home games, the now 38-year-old rally cry was entrenched in MU tradition.
During “The Missouri Waltz,” Tiger fans wave their arms aloft to the song’s slow opening rhythm, then clap quickly with the peppy part. Focus on the drums to keep your clapping in time with the band.
When “Every True Son/Fight Tiger” plays, clap along with the first song and cheer “Hooray! Hurrah! Mizzou! Mizzou! …” with the second.