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Missouri's entertainment, recreation options abound

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Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the beginning of summer barbecuing, swimming, boating and a much-needed vacation. While contem-plating whether to go to the mountains or beaches for this summer's vacation, I would like you to consider the many fun activities right here in Missouri.

People from near and far are fairly familiar with the activities that exist in our major metropolitan areas of Kansas City and St. Louis. While visiting either of these cities in the summertime, one can enjoy a Major League Baseball game or experience the thrill of riding roller coasters or plunging down water slides at either Six Flags St. Louis/Hurricane Harbor or Worlds of Fun/Oceans of Fun in Kansas City.

Branson offers more than 40 music and variety shows, and a lots of family fun.

If you are a racing fan, you can enjoy the exhilaration of fast cars at State Fair Motor Speedway every Friday night in Sedalia.

Missouri is known as the place "where the rivers run." An entire summer's worth of entertainment exists throughout the state that involves floating, rafting, boating, camping and a host of local festivals and celebrations.

The summer theater season offers live professional repertory theater at the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre in Arrow Rock June 9-Sept. 5.

Clay Days, USA features potters and artists from all over the world in the city of Mexico, June 26-27.

People from all over the country celebrate the Juneteenth Heritage and Jazz Festival, an African-American celebration of freedom from slavery, at various locations throughout St. Louis in June.

The month of July is most noted for fireworks displays. Spectacular fireworks are displayed across the state, including a show launched from a barge over the Missouri River directly behind the capitol building in Jefferson City.

National Tom Sawyer Days are held July 1-4 in Hannibal, celebrating the boyhood home of Samuel Clemens.

Jazz and blues fans can enjoy the vibrant sounds at The Kansas City Blues and Jazz Festival July 16-18.

August ushers in one of the state's main attractions the Missouri State Fair. This is an 11-day event that features the best of Missouri and includes a carnival, rides, games, food and more Aug. 12-22 in Sedalia.

Springfield is host to the Fall Hunting Classic, the nation's premier hunting show, sponsored by Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World Aug. 20-24.

And for those who are awed by the breathtaking sight of hot air balloons gently sailing the Missouri horizon, the United States Cellular Hot Air Balloon Classic is held Aug. 27-29 in Columbia.

All summer long, residents and visitors alike can relax and enjoy the quiet scenery along one of Missouri's many rivers. The Ozark Heritage region includes such cities as Eminence, Steelville, Poplar Bluff and Rolla, and several rivers and lakes, including the Jacks Fork River and Meramec Rivers, to name a few.

In this scenic and peaceful part of the state, one can enjoy horseback riding, glass-bottom boat rides, float trips, camping and canoeing.

The Ozark Mountain region's natural beauty contains several caves and caverns for the adventurer. It also is home to Dawt Mill, the only operating water-powered grist mill, in Ozark County. Bollinger Mill, in Cape Girardeau County, offers a mill tour and picnic sites.

Several water parks, go-cart raceways, miniature golf courses, factory outlet shopping malls, art galleries and museums dot the map of Missouri.

For more information on events scheduled year-round, visit the Missouri Division of Tourism Web site at

www.missouritourism.org

or call 573-751-4133 to obtain a "1999 Calendar of Events" or the "1999 Official Travel Guide."

(Joseph L. Driskill is director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development.)

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