101 Fun Things to Do: Community Connections

Friday, June 1, 2012
Jackson Homecomers

Mark your calendars and get ready to attend these noteworthy annual events in Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois

74. Held every July, Jackson Homecomers is an annual tradition featuring nightly entertainment, contests, carnivals rides and more.

75. The Mississippi River Valley Scenic Drive takes visitors through rural communities of Southeast Missouri. Good food, folk music, crafts, good food, camping, living history, museum tours, good food and the beauty of the Missouri countryside are all part of this self-conducted driving tour held at the end of April each year.

Empty Bowls

76. Empty Bowls is a national not-for-profit organization that raises money to fund local food banks by selling a small meal and giving away a handmade bowl with every ticket to its dinner in the fall. You can help by volunteering to paint bowls or attend the banquet.

77. Join local civic organizations such as the Lion's Club and Optimists in raising money for charity by purchasing tickets for chili, spaghetti and pancake fundraisers each year. Music and other entertainment are provided.

78. A long-standing tradition held in September in Southeast Missouri, the SEMO District Fair is a weeklong fair featuring agricultural exhibitions, a carnival, nightly entertainment and a wide variety of food.

Annual Jaycees BBQ Fest

79. BBQ teams compete in the annual Jaycees BBQ Fest sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. The event raises money for the local Toybox program and is held at Arena Park in Cape Girardeau.

80. Experience some Southern charm during the annual Dogwood Azalea Festival, held every April in Charleston, Mo. Tour the six-mile Dogwood-Azalea Trail when Charleston glows with the beauty of magnificent dogwoods and azaleas at peak bloom.

81. Annual home tours let visitors see what's beyond the front door of some of the area's most interesting houses. Tour some of downtown Cape Girardeau's most beautiful homes and gardens at the Downtown Historic Home & Garden Tour, held the Saturday of Mother's Day weekend each May. Around Christmas time, Lutheran Family and Children's Services hosts a holiday home tour with a variety of homes -- historic, interesting, newly built -- in Cape Girardeau, Jackson and the surrounding countryside.

82. Every September, the East Perry Community Fair in Altenburg, Mo., hosts a famous mule-jumping competition and much more. Be sure to get one of the famous grilled cheese sandwiches while you're there.

83. The Bollinger County Fair offers three days of food, contests, music, carnival rides, a car show, horse acts and more.

Tour de Corn

84. With 15-, 30-, 65- and 100-mile routes, East Prairie's Tour de Corn, held every June, offers something for all levels of cyclists. Enjoy a ride on flat land, capped off with a feast of sweet corn.

85. Lace up your sneakers for a good cause. Throughout the year, 5k races are held to benefit a variety of charities and causes. Check semoevents.com and caperoadrunners.org for details.

86. Trivia night fundraisers are held throughout the year to support groups like the Safe House for Women, Cape Girardeau Roller Girls, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Cape Girardeau Jaycees and more. Round up your smartest friends and reserve a table; these fundraisers usually include snacks, drinks and raffle prizes. Search semoevents.com for upcoming trivia nights.

87. The Du Quoin State Fair, held Aug. 24 to Sept. 3 this year, is 10 days of fun, food and entertainment. The fair was the longtime home of The Hambletonian, harness racing's premier event, and the sport is still is a main feature of the annual fair.

88. Sikeston's Cotton Carnival claims one of the biggest parades in the region to go along with carnival rides, food and games at the rodeo grounds.

River Tales car show

89. The River Tales Classic Car Show has been a much-anticipated event in Cape Girardeau for 35 years, featuring 31 classes of cars competing for a variety of awards and trophies. The River City Rodders sponsor this event, set for Sunday, Sept. 16, in downtown Cape Girardeau. Be sure to stop by Capaha Park from 4 to 7 p.m. the night before to watch the cars cruise, enjoy free hot dogs and drinks and listen to oldies music.

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