Festival fever

Summer in CoMo means major outdoor parties.

girl twirling fire

A Pedaler 's Jamboree attendee dances with glow sticks. Photo by Notley Hawkins.

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!



First Fridays

boy with paper maskSome 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 and Rose Park Concerts

Celebrate summer with an old-school block party and outdoor concert series. All summer Rose Park at Rose Music Hall (formerly Mojos) will host live bands on a brand-new stage. Highlights include Asleep at the Wheel and Michael Franti & Spearhead. For Summerfest, 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. 2017 will bring performers such as Kip Moore and Turnpike Troubadours.

Summerfest: Ninth Street between Broadway and Walnut
Rose Park Concerts: 1013 Park Ave.
April to September
Free to $55


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
June 3-4


Boone Dawdle

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.
Aug. 12
$65 to $85


outdoor meal

Diners chow down at Harvest Hootenanny. Photo by Tanzi Propst.

Harvest Hootenanny

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.
$10 suggested donation, $10 biergarten access


Roots N Blues N BBQ

This year’s gathering of blues, barbecue and brews marks the 11th anniversary of the festival American Blues Scene Magazine called “one of the most prominent festivals in the country.”

The more than 30,000 people who attended last year couldn’t agree more. The 2017 lineup includes Ryan Adams, Leon Bridges, Gary Clark Jr., Emmylou Harris, Lee Fields & The Expressions, Nikki Hill, Old 97s. … Need we go on? And don’t even get us started on the food trucks.

Stephens Lake Park, 2300 E. Walnut St.
Sept. 29–Oct. 1
$50-$65 for one day; $125 for a three-day weekend pass; $300-$550 for premium passes, with all the fixin’s

guitarist performing

Roots N Blues N BBQ. Photo by Lizz Cardwell.


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. 16-17

native dancer

Dancer David Waybenais performs in Nifong Park during the Heritage Festival. Photo by Lizz Cardwell.

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