CoMo Outdoors: Hit the Dance Floor
A guide to some of Columbia’s best celebrations, festivals and parties.
Columbians know how to throw a party. We host massive, multiday international extravaganzas (Roots N Blues, True/False) and community artsy get-togethers (First Friday, Summerfest). We celebrate harvests and holidays, heritage and pride. And we always have our dancing shoes on. Here’s a guide to just a few of the open-air festivals the summer season holds. Mark your calendars!
Every Memorial Day Weekend, more than 2,000 cyclists hit the trail for this bicycle and music festival. Riders depart from downtown Columbia and travel 30 miles on the MKT Trail and Katy Trail to Boonville’s Kemper Park, pausing along the way for live music and good food. Non-riders meet at the final destination, where more musical acts take the main stage. Festival-goers camp at Kemper Park or stay at nearby hotels before returning Sunday. Last year, attendees came together for a pancake breakfast and a yoga session before heading back home — or down the trail to Cooper’s Landing for more music.
Bicyclists start at Flat Branch Park at 101 S. Fourth St. in Columbia. Non-riders go to Kemper Park at 757 Third St. in Boonville.
$25 to $50
Some Fridays feel like a carnival, and others feel like a nightclub. That’s the beauty of the North Village Arts District’s monthly art crawl. The vibrant shops and businesses — including a distillery, a yoga studio, a coffee shop, a ballet school, art studios and multiple galleries — open their doors to guests. First Fridayers hear live music, watch art demonstrations and mingle with creative Columbians while sipping wine and nibbling on cheese.
Walnut Street from College Avenue to Ninth Street and north to Rogers Street
6 to 9 p.m. the first Friday of each month
9th Street Summerfest
Celebrate summer with an old-school block party and outdoor concert series. The Blue Note closes down Ninth Street between Broadway and Walnut, and the block fills with fans. Past musical acts have included Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson. Spring shows by Cole Swindell and Kacey Musgraves kicked off the 2016 series, which continues with Billy Currington May 20 and Here Come the Mummies June 4.
Ninth Street between Broadway and Walnut
April to September
Free to $35
Art in the Park
Started in 1959, Art in the Park is the oldest and largest fine arts festival in mid-Missouri. But the art isn’t limited to paintings and sketches at this outdoor bazaar. Visitors can find sculpture, glass work, ceramics, scarves, jewelry, photography and even creative topiary. Hosted by the Columbia Art League, the festival also features a kids’ art spot, live music and a food court. And if the summer sun gets too hot, art lovers can take a dip in the lake.
Stephens Lake Park, 100 Old 63 North
If by mid-August you are counting down the days to March’s True/False Film Fest, strap on your bike helmet and pedal 16 miles along the Katy Trail to Les Bourgeois Vineyards in Rocheport. Trailside surprises are stationed along the way, and at the destination guests are treated to a local-food dinner, live music and an outdoor screening of a documentary.
Bicyclists start at Flat Branch Park at 101 S. Fourth St. in Columbia. Non-riders go to Les Bourgeois Vineyards at 14020 W. Highway Bb in Rocheport.
$65 to $85
What started as a student project organized under Sustain Mizzou in 2008 has morphed into the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture. At the annual harvest celebration, nearly a thousand people visit the 1.3-acre urban farm to enjoy a Missouri-raised meal, live music, a beer and wine garden, and kids’ games. Community members learn about the farm’s sustainable local food systems, edible landscaping and composting.
Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture Urban Farm, 1209 Smith St.
3 to 8 p.m. Oct. 8
$10 suggested donation, $10 biergarten access
Roots N Blues N BBQ
This year’s gathering of blues, barbecue and brews marks the 10th anniversary of the festival American Blues Scene Magazine called “one of the most prominent festivals in the country.”
The nearly 30,000 people who attended last year couldn’t agree more. The 2016 lineup includes the Avett Brothers, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Grace Potter, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Jason Isbell, Ben Folds, Blues Traveler … Need we go on? And don’t even get us started on the food trucks.
Stephens Lake Park, 2300 E. Walnut St.
Sept. 30–Oct. 2
$45-$70 for one day; $99-$135 for a three-day weekend pass; $250-$525 for premium passes, with all the fixin’s
A biannual take on the First Friday gallery crawl concept, Artrageous Weekends occur in October and April and expand the fun deeper into downtown and longer into the weekend. Restaurants and shops become art galleries and music venues. A stroll through an alley becomes a guerilla art encounter. A Saturday afternoon with the kids becomes a family craft workshop. Top off the weekend with a Sunday bluegrass breakfast or jazz brunch.
Heritage Festival & Craft Show
If you long for the good ol’ days when cowboys started fires with flint and cooked from their chuck wagons, see history come alive as Nifong Park is transformed into a 19th-century homestead. Shop for traditional handmade wares, watch historical re-enactments, visit a Lewis and Clark replica campsite, and watch American Indian drumming and dancing.
Nifong Park, 3700 Ponderosa St.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 17–18