Ringing in Spring in Springfield

Every day brings a new sign of spring in Springfield.

First, the crocuses bloomed, and right now the city’s landscape is dotted with bright yellow daffodils. Next will be tulips and hyacinths and a flurry of events and activities spring brings with it.

The Mizumoto Stroll Garden opened for the season Saturday, Dickerson Park Zoo expands its hours for summer this Thursday and – drum roll please! – the Springfield Cardinals will have their first home game of the season on April 15.

Louie, the Springfield Cardinals' mascot

Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not much of a sports fan but I do like to have fun and that’s what you get when the Springfield Cardinals play at Hammons Field. When I go to a game, I rarely watch the actual game. Instead, I watch the antics of mascot Louie and the wacky games using contestants from the audience.

While the team will continue offering Friday Night Fireworks, Hiland Dairy Ice Cream Sundays and other fan favorites, new this year are “Buck a Brat” nights with Johnsonville Bratwursts for just $1 at the concession stands. I love brats and bargains. You can bet I’ll be one of the first in line for those.

I’m also looking forward to the bobble head nights. A total of 8,000 Stan “The Man” Musial bobble head collectibles will be given away on four different game nights. There’s something about an oversized head wobbling around that just makes me grin.

Lots of other special promotions are planned this year. Get more information about them at the “I Love Springfield, Missouri” blog at www.ILoveSpringfieldMo.com or on the Springfield Cardinals new Web site at www.SpringfieldCardinals.com.

Baseball isn’t the only sign of spring in Springfield. This is also the time of year for the annual Rock’n Ribs BBQ Festival. This year, the event is April 16-17.

Tie on your bib, roll up your sleeves and get ready to sample some of the nation’s best barbecue as teams from around the country compete in this mouthwatering event that raises money for local children’s charities. Live music, a kids’ play area and a motorcycle show are part of the festivities. Check it out at www.RockNRibs.com.

Another of my favorite spring activities is the St. John’s Teddy Bear Rally at Dickerson Park Zoo. Special bear-themed activities are scheduled throughout the day and admission is only $1 per person.

Not only is this the only time of year I can carry my Teddy bear around in public without getting stares, it’s yet another opportunity to visit the zoo.

A giraffe prepares for feeding at Dickerson Park Zoo

My favorite animal is Stretch the giraffe. I had admired him from afar for several years until a few years ago when the zoo opened a giraffe feeding deck. Seeing Stretch at eye level and feeding him his special giraffe crackers is my all-time favorite thing to do at the zoo.

Another favorite spring activity for me and about 30,000 other people is the annual Artsfest on Walnut Street festival. Live performances ranging from ballet to mariachi are scheduled throughout the two-day event. Juried artists display and sell their work. Contests, games and more are part of this event celebrating its 30th year in 2010.

You can get more information about Artsfest at www.SpringfieldArts.com.

These are just a few examples of spring events in Springfield. Every day, something new is added to our online calendar – farmers’ markets opening for the season, Easter egg hunts, the Springfield Symphony’s “String Sing,” Earth Day events.

Check out our calendar at www.SpringfieldAdventures.com or call the Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-678-8767 for information about things to see and do in the Springfield area. We’re always glad to help. (Don’t forget to ask for our Passport to Family Fun or look for it on our Web site. It has all kinds of discounts and special offers!)

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