Southwest Missouri Festivals: The Sights and Sounds of the Ozarks

Jefferson City, Mo. – Enjoy fun, food, fairs and festivals this fall in Missouri. lists hundreds of events to attend during the fall season, in cities both large and small. In southwest Missouri, you find everything from celebrations of foreign cultures to Ozarks heritage. Other highlights include the delicious taste of taste apple butter and the region’s largest parade. Want to know more? Read on.

Photo of Japanese Fall Festival, Springfield

Japanese Fall Festival; Photo courtesy Springfield CVB

Begin the fall festival season with a trip to Springfield, which hosts two festivals Sept. 7-9. At the 17th Annual Japanese Fall Festival, you experience vendors, activities and artists who celebrate the culture of Japan. Activities are in the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden at Nathanael Green Park. Hours are 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday; admission is $7 for adults and $3 for those ages 12 and younger.

Also Sept. 7-9, the Fifth Annual Greek Festival offers everything from traditional food and drink to dance and dress. Shop for souvenirs and memorabilia – including olive oil soaps and lotions, jewelry, and bags – from Greece, plus original paintings and prints by Greek artist Margo Hiotis. Children will enjoy the inflatables area and other activities. Held at St. Thomas the Apostle Orthodox Church, 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday, and noon-3 p.m. Sunday.

Photo of Apple Butter Makin' Days, Mount Vernon

Apple Butter Makin' Days, Mount Vernon

September brings the beginning of the National Harvest Festivalat Silver Dollar City, in Branson. This annual event, which runs Sept. 13-Oct. 27, showcases some of the country’s finest craftsmen. Activities abound at the theme park and include a western stunt show featuring professional stuntmen and stuntwomen; appearances by western star and artist Buck Taylor; exhibits featuring Best of Missouri Hands artists; and demonstrations at the Midwest Living Culinary and Craft School. During the festival, Silver Dollar City is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.

Photo of Maple Leaf Festival, Carthage

Maple Leaf Festival; Photo courtesy Carthage CVB

For a taste of southwest Missouri, head to Mount Vernon, Oct. 12-14, for the popular Apple Butter Makin’ Days Festival. This event focuses on making apple butter the old-fashioned way – in massive copper kettles above a wood fire. The festival includes live music, a juried show with 380 booths of handmade arts and crafts, a car show, a parade and games. Activities take place on the courthouse square; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

The 46th Annual Maple Leaf Festival in Carthage begins Oct. 12, with festivities running through Oct. 21. This festival started as a marching band competition in the 1960s; today it has grown into one of the region’s largest events. The highlight of the festival is the annual Maple Leaf Parade, billed as the largest parade in southwest Missouri, which runs 9 a.m. until about noon Oct. 20. Leading up to the parade, activities include a family fun walk, pageants, a lip-syncing competition, the Maple Leaf Quilt Show (which begins before and continues after the festival’s run), live music and, of course, food and drink. Times of activities vary, but you’ll find plenty to do from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. on just about every day of the festival.

As if these festivals were enough to tire you out this fall, here’s a look at some other September happenings in southwest Missouri:

  • 39th Annual Autumn Daze Arts Festival, Sept. 13-15, Branson – More than 100 crafters and artisans offer handmade wares, while related activities include demonstrations, live performances featuring Branson performers and a classic car cruise-in. Other activities include a street dance, sidewalk sales and performer meet-and-greets. Held in downtown Branson; hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
  • Cider Days, Sept. 15-16, Springfield –Walnut Street is alive with the sights and sounds of fall during this celebration
    Photo of Cider Days, Springfield

    Cider Days; Photo courtesy Springfield CVB

    featuring more than 100 juried artists and crafters. There is an activities area for children and a scarecrow village, plus live music and plenty of food and drink. Admission is $4 for adults; hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both days.

  • Fair Grove Heritage Reunion, Sept. 29-30, Fair Grove – This arts and crafts showcase features nearly 300 vendor booths, a parade, country music, dancing, an antique tractor show and lots of food and drink. Many of the demonstrations depict life in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Activities take place around what’s known as Wommack Mill and at the Fair Grove District Park. Open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

All those activities combined certainly add up to a September you’re sure to remember. Now, let’s get ready for October, a great time of year for cooler weather, fall color and a break before the rush of the busy holiday season.

Here’s a taste of the fun to be had in October in southwest Missouri:

  • Barnyard Days, Oct. 5-7, Neosho – Circle R Ranch, north of Neosho, is full of festival fun during this three-day event featuring more than 150 artists and exhibitors. See artisans at work, shop for handmade artwork and crafts, enjoy live music and a tractor show, and let the kids meet furry friends at the petting zoo. Hours are 1 p.m.-6 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday; admission is $5 for adults, children ages 13 and younger admitted free.
  • Farm Girl Festival, Oct. 6-7, northeast of Carthage – Find handmade crafts, take hayrides, enjoy Dutch-oven cooking, learn how to knit and see farm-life demonstrations during this two-day festival at Red Oak II. Activities run 10 a.m. to dusk Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday.
  • Huckster’s Day, Oct. 6, Butler – The Butler Square is filled with crafts, food, music, contests and old-fashioned games. Activities are 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Hartville Fall Festival, Oct. 13, Hartville – Live bluegrass music and incredible food (think barbecue and kettle corn) are two of the highlights of this festival, which is in its 35th year. While there, you find games for kids, a pie auction, a petting zoo, and carnival rides. Civil War reenactors provide a living history demonstration as a way to promote the Battle of Hartville reenactment scheduled for next year, on the battle’s 150th anniversary. Activities are held on the courthouse square, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Homestead Days Festival at Nathan Boone Homestead State Historic Site, Oct. 20-21, on Route V, north of Ash Grove – This festival focuses on life in the early 1800s and features living-history demonstrations and craft demonstrations, along with live music and plenty of festival foods. Nathan Boone is an important figure in Missouri history; the youngest son of Daniel Boone, he was a soldier, surveyor and businessman. Activities are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. both days.
  • Glade Top Flaming Fall Revue, Oct. 21, about 10 miles south of Ava – Beautiful views of the Ozarks, along with live entertainment, activities for kids, and good food are traditions at this annual event. Activities include pumpkin painting and scarecrow making, plus a turkey-calling contest. The event begins with an outdoor church service. Held at the Caney Picnic Area on Glade Top Trail, in Mark Twain National Forest; hours are 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

There you have it; a look at some of the festivals happening in southwest Missouri this fall. For more information about events, plus attractions, restaurants, places to stay and other things to do, log on to, the official website of the Missouri Division of Tourism.

About the Missouri Division of Tourism

The Missouri Division of Tourism (MDT) is the official tourism office for the state of Missouri dedicated to marketing Missouri as a premier travel destination. Established in 1967, the Missouri Division of Tourism has worked hard to develop the tourism industry in Missouri to what it is today, an $11.2 billion industry supporting more than 279,000 jobs and generating $627 million in state taxes in Fiscal Year 2011. For every dollar spent on marketing Missouri as a travel destination in FY11, $57.76 was returned in visitor expenditures. For more information on Missouri tourism, go to


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Contact: Stephen Foutes

Missouri Division of Tourism

Contact: Stephanie Lynch
Missouri Tourism News Bureau

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