Have you ever wondered what real estate has to do with tourism, or where a bank might fit in, or even your local insurance agent?
For this edition of Trip Talk we’re going to explore the nuts and bolts for any good adventure. Whether you’re getting ready for a roadtrip, weekend away, day outing, or taking a break from the daily grind, you’ll want your ducks in a row to get you on the move and ready to roll.
Let’s talk about those ducks.
We’re starting to see this question pop up a lot. What do banks have to do with tourism? Seems like an unlikely match, don’t you think? Though really, it’s not. Banks, insurance agents, gas stations, grocery stores, mechanics, doctors, and even real estate brokers are the backbone for tourism – they are the back end foundation, the gotta have them, practicalities of what’s going to make or break your trip. These services are what make your trip possible, real, and memorable.
And, they are vital when it comes to tourism and thriving communities.
Think about it. If you are traveling somewhere to unwind for the weekend – say a weekend to a little country inn tucked away in the Ozarks, off to a local festival devoted to something rather unique, cycling through a small town, visiting local vineyards for some award winning wine, tasting your way around a farm tour, or chasing waterfalls. What do you need to make your trip memorable? Money from the bank, current insurance for the car or trip insurance for something bigger, gas to get you where you’re going, ice… munchies… and maybe a magazine from the grocery store, mechanics (and, doctors) for when things go awry, and real estate brokers for when you decide you might want to make a move… because the locale left an impression.
You may not need the real estate broker to make the perfect trip, but if that perfect trip spoke to you... and you fell in love with the area... you'll want to have a good one available. They will give you the best bird's eye view to what's going on and what's available, so you can start to think realistically about future possibilities. They will help you explore investments, vacation rental properties, maybe a new home, second home, deer lease, recreational property, place to park the RV and watch the sunset, start a business, or maybe you've dreamed of having a hobby farm.
This venture all started from taking that trip to that fun festival... or exploring the Ozarks on that tasting tour to local farms... or that little country inn with the vineyard nearby.
On the front-end, services like these may seem like unlikely ties to tourism. When we think about tourism, we may think more about where we're going and what we'll be doing. The vision we have is the vacation, the time off, the unwinding, the activities we'll be doing, and the memories we'll be making. We're focused on the hotel we'll stay at, the restaurant we'll eat at, the amusement park we'll go to, the mountain trails we may hike, and the adventures we'll go do. We think about the back end services, because we need them, but we don't connect the two sides together. But... it all ties together. These necessary services are the unsung heroes of tourism, they are the practical nuts and bolts, and the foundation for any good trip.
They are the foundation for a thriving community.
Playing and pickin’ is part of the heritage here in south central Missouri. Just as often as Texas has country dancehalls, Missouri has little country opries. Tucked away in the tiny town of Northview, MO, every Friday night the soul of this little town comes alive, and the rhythm rocks into the night, like a heartbeat. Known by the locals as the “Northview Jam”, folks come from parts around to gather weekly for a call to community to pick, play, sing, and strum.
Nestled into what seems like an almost abandoned town, located just past the center, is a little converted country church just off State Route B in southern Webster County – with a sign that reads “Country Music Jam”. The parking lot is packed. The show starts at 5 pm, but many come earlier. Come on in, everyone is welcome. When you arrive, you’ll be greeted with a welcome smile and asked if you can sing, strum, or maybe even clog a little. If you can’t, not to worry... sit on back and enjoy the show.
There is a smattering of eclectic old theater chairs adding to the flavor. Most don’t match and are bolted the floor. There are rows of stacking chairs off to the right, a colorful stained-glass window near the back, and the aromas of appetizing dishes wafting from the kitchen - for the potluck held at intermission. An old, etched, wooden sign above an outstretched American flag reads “Northview Jam”. This is true Americana.
As folks take the stage, an almost intuitive connection happens. Like muscle memory, the next act takes the stage, a key is called out, and the music begins. Birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated... doesn’t matter if they’ve known you a while, or they don’t know you at all. You are welcomed into the fold and serenaded. As the evening progresses, the more the audience sings along.
On this particular night, coming away from my first Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival, where history meets pop culture, and Mayberry comes to southern Missouri. A time-honored tradition takes shape. Small town meets celebrities, but status doesn’t matter – only home-grown hospitality.
This I was told, was a highlight for the honored guests to sneak away from festival festivities and join in with this jam. For some of the guests this was the first time, for others this is a yearly pilgrimage. For the rest of us, it was a night to be remembered where the cast of the Waltons crooned "I'll Fly Away", as the band belted out the melody, and the audience sang along boldly. It speaks highly when the hospitality rings so strong that it’s the highlight for honored authors, presidential descendants, historians, and celebrities is to come back time and time again to this tiny town. Where the people are real, and music is interwoven into the fabric of the community.
Looking for more hiking haunts in the tri-county area?
Missouri is touted for it's trails, and here in south central Missouri, we can definitely help cure your hankering for hikes. Tucked off Hwy 60, just off State Hwy O, about an hour east of Springfield is Cedar Gap Conservation Area. Between Seymour and Mansfield is a local little gem. It's not a big hike, but it sure is pretty, and definitely worth the go.
Touted as Missouri's second highest point in the state. You'll enjoy sweeping vistas, quiet creek beds, a old prospector's cabin (heading left on the trail, when you get to the intersection), an old oak hickory forest, and a walk along the train tracks. Full of camera ready shots, so don't forget the camera. Bring a lunch, picnic on the ridge, and take in the full view. The trail is fido friendly, just make sure to have a leash handy. Great for a group of friends, or hiking solo.
This hike is great for a quiet stroll to soak up some nature love, a place to clear your mind and get creative, or a good spot to stretch your legs. Hit the the trail twice if you want to get some extra mileage in.
Whatever suits your fancy, we recommend taking some time out and exploring this local hike.
Lace up your boots and grab your friends! Whether you are an avid adventurer, day hiker, or just want to get out and soak up some sun. The Mark Twain National Forest has got you covered. But, before you trek into the Twain, there are some things you need to know.
Hercules Glades, part of the Ava-Cassville-Willow Springs wilderness district – located in Douglas county, has 12,413 acres of the most scenic and unique country in the Midwest. It’s combination of open grassland, forested knobs, steep rocky hillsides, and narrow drainage offers unusual beauty and a measure of solitude sought out by nature lovers of all sorts.
Best seasons to go. Spring, fall, and winter. It's officially springtime in Missouri, so it's time to go now and start exploring.
If you’re headed to the Hercules… plan for a full day out. You’ll be met with unsurpassed beauty including bird watching, wild flowers, waterfalls, open vistas, and dense forests. There are 32 miles of maintained trails which are great for day hikers, birders, wilderness explorers, and backpackers alike.
Some of the best treks to take: (Top eight rated by Alltrails)
The Long Trail (mentioned twice – so it must be that good!) – This is a 10.3 moderately trafficked out and back trail that features a waterfall. Dogs and horses are available to use this trail, and it is accessible year-round. There is 1,361 ft elevation change, and the trail is ranked as moderate.
Coy Bald – This is a 6.7 mile lightly trafficked loop trail. There is a waterfall. Dogs are allowed on leash, and the trail is available year-round. There is 767 ft of elevation change, and the trail is ranked as moderate.
Pole Hollow Loop – This is a 4.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail that features a waterfall. Dogs are allowed on leash, and the trail is accessible all year. There is 590 ft elevation change, and the trail is ranked as moderate.
Pees Hollow – This is a 5.7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail that features wild flowers and bird watching. Dogs are not mentioned for this trail. The trail is accessible year-round. There is 774 ft elevation change, and the trail is ranked as moderate.
Hercules Glades Backpacking Loop – This is a 9.9 mile moderately trafficked loop trail that features a waterfall. Dogs area allowed on leash, and the trail is available year-round. There is 931 ft elevation change, and the trailed is ranked as moderate.
Blair Ridge – This is a 6.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail (mileage takes into consideration full length going in and turning around to go back.) The trail features a waterfall. Dogs are allowed on leash, and the trail is available year-round. There is 705 ft elevation change, and the trail is ranked as moderate.
Firetower Trail - This is a 10.2 moderately trafficked out and back trail that features wild flowers and bird watching. Dogs are not recommended on this trail, and the trail is accessible year round. There is 1,361 ft elevation change, and the trail is ranked as moderate.
(Photos taken from the winter season.)
What to know before you go. Always check the weather and be prepared with layers and rain gear. It’s Missouri, and it’s spring time. The weather, like many places, wobbles. One day it’s hot, another day it’s not. If you’re out for the day, you’ll want to know before you go. Don’t forget to hydrate and bring water for the trail. Bring a day pack with some snacks and pack your lunch, and don’t forget the camera… you’ll be glad you did.
Make sure to have good hiking boots / shoes for rocky terrain. Don’t leave home without the bugs spray as tick season is right around the corner, and remember… leaves of three, let them be.
Practice Leave No Trace when out on the trail – pack out what you pack in. There are no bathroom facilities, or water collection en-route. Maps are available at the trailheads, but it’s best practice to download the map ahead of time using an app like Alltrails. Some of the trails are not well maintained, well-marked, and can get fairly primitive. So sneak some surveying tape in your bag in case you get off track. It’s a good way to mark the path, to help you get back on track and going the right way.
It’s well worth the time to trek the Twain. Head to the Hercules and have a great hike!
Don’t let size fool you. You know the saying “It’s petite, but it’s powerful” … Mansfield, population 1255 is jam packed with possibilities. Perhaps at one time a sleepy little town tucked away off the beaten path. The energy, however, is building. Mansfield is becoming a vibrant little berg with a vision.
Mansfield is home to both Wilder Day, happening the third weekend in September, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Children’s Literature Festival (Coinciding with the Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival April 25th – 27th) which brings in several thousand school children + their parents and school teachers. Home also to Bakers Creek Heirloom Seeds, which boasts as many as 10,000 gardeners to their Spring festival each year. We’re just talking festivals… that’s a lot of folks heading to this tiny little town.
Mansfield is not just a destination for festivals.
Located about 50 miles east of Springfield, just off Hwy 60 on route 5 south, you’ll make a right and head to the town square. A pleasant little welcoming place. Park your car and explore a little. Are you ready for a weekend away? Just off the square you can stay at the historic Weaver Inn Bed and Breakfast and make that your home base. Grab a cup of coffee at the Weaver Inn Coffee Corner, pull out your map, and plot your route.
If museums and culture are your thing, Mansfield’s got you covered. Start your morning off by taking a walk down over to the Mansfield Historical Society, just across the square, and learn all about the rich history of Mansfield, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Wright County, and so much more. Just next door is Sweet Nellies Ice Cream Parlor, where you can grab a sweet treat. Are you screaming for some ice cream? They serve up homemade Kemps Ice Cream. Need something more substantial, maybe it’s time for lunch… so, check out their full menu. They’ve got everything from Chicken and Waffles to Pa’s Pickles… and so much more. Once you fill your belly, you can hop in the car for a short drive to the Museum of the American Indians of the Ozark’s Plateau... where Marjorie and Murl Pierson will greet you for a personal tour. Here you can learn all about what tribes inhabited the area, their way of life and rich history. They even have an original 26 ft hand carved canoe on site… and of course, there’s a story!
Head back to the square for some comfort food, have dinner at Ma & Pa’s Restaurant, and mosey through the flea market. After your full day, head back to the Inn, relax a little and kick your feet up. You’ve earned it.
For your second day in Mansfield... after you’ve had your daily grind and a good breakfast, head on over to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home + Museum. Located right off State Hwy A, the museum is easy to see. You’ll want to give yourself some time to take it all in. Come on in, buy a ticket, take a tour, and learn more. You’ll be able to explore the museum, learn all about the many books that Laura wrote, and how they related to the events of history. See how she lived… get an intimate look into her life and thoughts… learn how she met her lifetime love, and the many causes she championed. Tour through her daughter Rose’s home, and the home Rose built for her parents.
Whether you’re ready for more relaxation or want to explore more of what’s around… before you head out of town, save some room for some of the best pizza in the area. Vaccaro's will not disappoint, as they serve up mouth watering New York style pizza. To get there... head back on Route 5, make a right at the intersection of route 5 and business route 60. Where else are you going to find New York style pizza hidden off the highway. Why get fast food, when you can have slow cooked? What’s even better is that this place serves up not just melt in your mouth deep dish, but they cater to the gluten intolerant crowd as well. It’s well worth the drive. Trust us.
Don’t just take our word for it, hop in the car, fall in love with Mansfield, and make it a mainstay on your map.
As you keep coming down the driveway, the spanse of the property unfolds. The inn nestles into a welcoming 10 acre estate, complete with the lake (paddle boats and fishing boats for your leisure, as the lake is stocked and ready for you to reel something in). Adirondack style chairs to relax into and watch the sunset. Fire pits (complete with s'mores), strategic seating all around, gazebo, gardens, and well maintained grounds. Perfect for a reunion, girls retreat, local festival, family gathering, wedding, or what have you. They take immediate reservations, for the spontaneous folks, and they do not require a minimum stay. They are perfect for an overnight, a weekend away, or a week
When you get to the house, take your shoes off and come inside. Make yourself at home. If you're like Doug, and love music... there is a baby grand in the living room just waiting to be played, and acoustic guitars strategically placed in every room. A karaoke machine to sing along to your hearts content, oodles of games, and videos to watch. Big comfy couches that beckon, chocolate covered coffee beans to munch on, and there is always something going on in the kitchen. Walking in, you'll feel relaxed, right at home, and ready to recharge. They are the destination for relaxation!
Did I mention that (almost) every room has a Jacuzzi tub, fireplace, and a set of binoculars? These are not standard run of the mill rooms. You'll want to grab your binoculars and take a peak at what's outside too. Birds, big tall trees, wide open spaces, wildlife, and some good old fashioned nature therapy.
Ready to get out for a day trip? They've got the inside scoop on local wineries, local happenings, and local culture. No car and no idea where to go? No problem, they'll drive you. Take a tour with them, or take a tour on your own. They've got it covered.
If you are a planning a wedding, and want to do it with less stress... they are here to help. Swan Song Inn has experts on hand to help plan your perfect day. They even offer "Weddings without the worry" packages.
For more information on what they can do for your special day or to plan a stay... check out their website, shoot them an email, or give them a call.
There is always something going on at Swan Song Inn. The perfect place to de-stress.
Once a year, our newest Gold Member and local Marshfield resident, Nicholas Inman, and crew put on a spectacular event in Marshfield Missouri annually in the spring. It's called the Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival, and it's in it's 16th year of existence... and it's quite the show. A not to be missed event, that brings people in worldwide!
Started as a way to celebrate the local community and the state at large, the festival initially began as a project of planting cherry blossom trees in his hometown. Following an internship in Washington, D.C. and a love of our nation's capital, he wanted to bring a piece of Washington to MIssouri. Giving folks the opportunity to experience a little bit of both worlds.
The cherry blossom project began in 2003, but the first official tree planting did not take place until 2004. The first tree was planted at the Webster County Museum by Missouri First Lady Lori Houser Holden. Soon the cherry blossom project spread throughout the city. Numerous dignitaries came to plant trees including; Jerry Jones (Owner of the Dallas Cowboys), Jean Carnahan (Former Missouri First Lady and United States Senator), Pat Wilson (Former Missouri First Lady), Betty Hearnes (Former Missouri First Lady), John and Hilda Lane (nephew of Dr. Edwin P. Hubble), Lesley Kays (Webster County Sesquicentennial Queen) along with several groups. Volunteers planted several cherry blossom trees on public property and a series of promotions encouraged citizens to plant cherry blossoms on private property.
The festival was born in 2006, at the urging of local residents to put a committee together... and, it's been running strong ever since! It's grown from a small committee to a nationwide, and even worldwide phenomenon!
Here's what Joseph Yakovetic had to say:
“Here in this tiny town, one weekend a year, meet celebrities, noted authors, humanitarians, presidential descendants, historical luminaries from all over the world. They share with attendees their lives, their struggles and achievements, encouraging and entertaining. This most unusual place and event should be on everyone’s bucket list to attend at least once. However, once you attend, you will be drawn back to return, again and again.” ~ Joseph Yakovetic
To learn more about what going on and the schedule of events, check out their website.
The 2019 festival dates are: April 24th thru April 27th.
Tickets went on sale President's Day, February 18th, 2019. The festival is open to the public, and is free, unless otherwise noted. Reserve your seat early! For a full list of ticket prices, check here.
Events requiring tickets include:
Descendants of Presidents are invited to come and share their stories. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Cleveland, Ford, these are just a few of the Presidents that have been represented at the Cherry Blossom Festivities. Celebrities with ties to Missouri are also invited.
Get your tickets today and pencil it in on the calendar!!
I'm searching for great fountains in the tri-counties or Webster, Wright and Douglas.... Anyone know of great ones besides the center circle drive of Chateau Charmant?
Send me the locations you've seen anything interesting and I'll make the drive to see and photograph.