The scent of barbecue and freshly baked bread, the sounds of bluegrass, jazz and blues, and the sight of fireworks lighting up the night sky – these are just a few of the experiences you’ll find during the warm summer months in Missouri. Music, history, food and fun await at dozens of festivals and events across the state.
- The Anchor Festival, May 31-June 2, has been a tradition in Centralia since 1987. The event, considered one of the best summer festivals in the area, will include a parade, car and bike show, 3v3 basketball, and classic fair food. The festival takes its name from the electrical anchors made at the Hubbell factory in town.
- The Ozark Cigar Box Guitar Music Festival began in 2017, but it’s already one of Missouri’s top blues festivals, according to the American Blues Scene. The family-friendly event features nationally recognized musicians from different musical genres playing their handmade instruments. The festival is set for Aug. 3-4 in Warsaw at the Drake Harbor outdoor amphitheater overlooking Lake of the Ozarks.
- The Missouri State Fair, Aug. 8-18 in Sedalia, has showcased the Show-Me State since 1901. Agriculture exhibits and competitions, grandstand concerts, carnival rides, kids entertainment and much more attract several hundred thousand visitors each year.
- Kirkwood will host its 3rd annual Route 66 Cars and Guitars Festival on June 8. The event reflects the rich transportation and music history of the region. Attractions and entertainment, including live music, vintage vehicles, and food and drink from area merchants, will be centered in downtown Kirkwood.
- A Hannibal tradition for more than 60 years, National Tom Sawyer Days, July 3-6, offers something for all ages and interests. Festival goers can participate in the National Fence Painting Contest, a frog-jump competition and the Tom & Becky Contest. Other attractions include a craft festival, mud volleyball tournament, horseshoe tournament, carnival rides, live music every night in the beer garden, and a spectacular fireworks display over the Mississippi River on the 4th of July.
- Historic Laclede’s Landing in St. Louis is the backdrop for the Big Muddy Blues Festival on Labor Day weekend, Aug. 30-Sept. 1. This popular outdoor event draws thousands from around the country for an eclectic and rich celebration of the blues in St. Louis. One of the longest-running festivals of its kind, Big Muddy features four indoor stages, more than 65 bands and 19 hours of musical performances.
- The East Prairie Sweet Corn Festival boasts a week-long lineup of activities June 28-July 4. The premiere event is the Tour de Corn, a fully supported charity bike ride with varying distances for beginning to experienced riders. The night before the event, riders and families can enjoy the annual Main Street Party, complete with crawfish and barbecue, arts and crafts, games, entertainment, and the Husker 5K run.
- Since 1953, the Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo has been a summer staple in southern Missouri. Today, it is the premiere Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) competition in the region, bringing nearly 40,000 people to Sikeston annually for rodeo events and concerts. This year’s rodeo is set for Aug. 7-10.
- Carthage welcomes more than 50,000 visitors the first weekend in August for Marian Days. Estimated to be the largest religious pilgrimage in North America, Marian Days brings Vietnamese Catholic families together to celebrate faith, fellowship, culture and the memory of their homeland across the Pacific. Hotels become hubs of activity, neighborhood lawns fill with campers, and residents enjoy the sights and sounds of the festival atmosphere. The event includes a variety of ceremonies, seminars and live entertainment.
- The Ozark Empire Fair, July 25-Aug. 3, started in the early 1900s as a traveling display of area crafts and handwork in the city of Springfield. The primary objective was to promote manufacturing, agriculture and industry through exhibitions. Today, the annual fair – billed as summer’s biggest party – is one of the largest events in southwest Missouri.
- Juneteenth KC commemorates the abolition of slavery in the United States and recognizes the enduring and ongoing contributions of African Americans. Events, including a parade in the 18th & Vine Historic District and a festival at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, are set for June 1-15 in Kansas City.
- Chillicothe embraces its history as the birthplace of sliced bread with the Second Annual Sliced Bread Day festivities July 5-7. This year’s festival will mark the first official “Missouri Sliced Bread Day” as designated by the Missouri General Assembly. Activities include a bread baking contest, farmers market, downtown parade and fireworks to commemorate the July 7 anniversary of the first time sliced bread was packaged and sold.
- The tantalizing aroma of smoked meat will fill the air in downtown Excelsior Springs during the 19th Annual BBQ & Fly-In on the River August 16-17. Seventy BBQ teams will compete in various categories, and attendees can visit the beer garden, listen to live bands, and watch flyovers and fireworks.
More information about these and other events can be found on the Missouri Division of Tourism’s official website, visitmo.com.