Maybe our moods in summer are an echo from childhood, when the season really did bubble over with time to explore new things. Maybe, as recent studies suggest, our biology is hard-wired to feel happier when the weather is warmer and the days are longer.
Whatever, summer in Missouri beckons with a spirit of adventure. We propose 10 arts activities to answer that call. Read on for specific events and resources or just for inspiration on how to bring even more arts fun into your life during the months that Lyra the Harp plays high in Missouri’s sky.
1. Listen to music under the blue
“You feel the day start to cool down, the sun sets, a tugboat passes along the river and down the street a couple of trains go by, and you’re sitting under a canopy of stars listening to good music,” said Henry Sweets, executive director of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum in downtown Hannibal. Every summer the museum presents several weeks of free evening concerts on historic Hill Street between Samuel Clemens’ childhood home and the house of “Becky Thatcher” right alongside the Mississippi.
Similar free concerts take place all summer throughout Missouri, at parks, town squares, historic houses, zoos, museums, botanical gardens, wineries and more. They’re an ideal way, Henry said, either to enjoy familiar music or sample a new genre.
“You’re in a relaxed atmosphere, not feeling perhaps the etiquette and rules of an indoor concert,” he said. “We have people who can’t make it by the beginning of the show and so they just come down later. Some get tired and pick up and go home early. People are spread out in lawn chairs and on blankets. You can talk to each other without disturbing your neighbors. Each of our evenings we also have food and drinks available from local vendors.” And the riverside setting, he said, is magical.”You’re part of the whole downtown atmosphere,” he said. “That’s something that can only happen outdoors.”
Concerts all over the state
Free outdoor concerts abound in Missouri in the summer. The best resources to find them in Missouri are the Missouri Division of Tourism’s VisitMO.com and local things-to-do resources such as news media and Convention and Visitors Bureaus. Here are a few summer series we spotted.
▪ Arcadia, Pickin’ on the Square, Iron County Courthouse Gazebo, by Arcadia Valley Mountain Music Festival | Fridays, May 16–October 17
▪ Cape Girardeau, Tunes at Twilight, Common Pleas Courthouse Gazebo, by Old Town Cape | Fridays, May 16–June 20 and August 15–September 19
▪ Columbia, Community Concerts, various outdoor locations, by Missouri Symphony Society | June 5, 12, 22, 29
▪ Hannibal, Music Under the Stars, by Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum | Thursdays, June 5–July 31
▪ Lee’s Summit, Music in the Park, Howard Station Park, by Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street | Fridays, May 23–August 29
▪ Sikeston, Music in the Park, Malone Park, by Historic Downtown Sikeston | Fridays, May 30–June 27
▪ Springfield, Sounds on the Square, Park Central Square, by Gig Salad | Fridays, June 6-27
▪ Warrensburg, Summer Concert Series, Johnson County Courthouse Lawn and Pine Street, by Warrensburg Main Street | every other Friday, June 13–August 22
2. Travel in time
A folk arts festival like the Old-Time Music Ozark Heritage Festival in West Plains exists in two time streams: the present where the traditions it celebrates are still vibrant, and the past from which they sprang.
“Old-time in this context,” said Lisa Higgins, director of the Missouri Arts Council’s Missouri Folk Arts Program, “refers to a certain musical style that has long roots but is still dynamic, not fixed in time, not a reenactment. The other traditions at that festival are also still actively practiced.”
Written by Barbara MacRobie, public information coordinator for the Missouri Arts Council.