Spring Colors to be on Display April 26-27 for Mississippi River Valley Scenic Drive



April 21, 2008 – The rural communities of southeast Missouri invite you to join them April 26-27 as they celebrate spring with good food, festivals, music, dancing, crafts, living history events, camping, scenic vistas and more during the 18th Annual Mississippi River Valley Scenic Drive.

Dr. Frank Nickell, director of the Center for Regional History at Southeast Missouri State University, said “this year’s spring drive will surely be a great opportunity to get away from the cold and rain of early spring and enjoy the great beauty of southeast Missouri. Springtime,” he added, “is when southeast Missouri is most beautiful and at its very best.”

From Cape Girardeau, Mo., Altenburg, Mo., and Brazeau, Mo., on the east, to Marble Hill, Mo., Marquand, Mo., and Sedgewickville, Mo., on the west, and from Commerce, Mo., to the south and Perryville, Mo., to the north, the historic and scenic attractions will be open for what is hoped will be a great weekend of history and fun.

Throughout the two days, participants may view the superb facilities of Cape Girardeau, including the Red House, the Glenn House, the River Heritage Museum, the Crisp Museum at the River Campus, Fort D, Old St. Vincent’s Catholic Church and Trail of Tears State Park. These facilities will all be open for tours and interpretation. For those who have not visited these places, this will be the best opportunity of the year to get an up close and personal tour of these great sites, Nickell said.

Also during the two days, participants may take part in historic town tours in Altenburg, Jackson, Mo., Marble Hill, Brazeau, Commerce and Oak Ridge, Mo.

“The sparkling new Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum in Altenburg is one of the new and special features of this region, built with the legacy of long-time Altenburg banker Vernon Meyer,” Nickell said. “It is a special place.”

While in the area, drive participants are encouraged to visit the Tower Rock Winery and Tower Rock, one of the most famous spots in the Mississippi River Valley. In addition, the Bollinger County Museum of Natural History has a new dinosaur on exhibit along with their many other exhibits of fossils, Native American and Civil War artifacts, and Will Mayfield College records. The Cat Ranch Art Guild in Marble Hill will have two full days of activities, including music, arts, crafts, food and all-around fun, Nickell said. Marble Hill also features the Massey Log House, Wicecarver’s Store, and on Saturday, the Senior Citizen Center has a special chicken and dumpling or spaghetti dinner.

One of the most beautiful places in the region is the Pine Crest Azalea Farm near Oak Ridge, he said. Pine Crest is the recipient of the 2007 Missouri Governor’s Spotlight Award, as a special Missouri destination. Here, visitors will see more than 200,000 plants, including azaleas, rhododendrons and hollies, all nestled in the midst of tall pines. Admission is free.

In Commerce, visitors will find a fascinating museum of local history, a fine gift shot, a fun house and the always delightful River Ridge Winery. There will be live entertainment both Saturday and Sunday. In Brazeau, there will be a large pot of ham and beans on Saturday and a great pot of beef stew on Sunday. Nickell says visitors will also have great fun visiting the historic houses, museum and church, and the Hemman Winery.

The Saxon Lutheran Memorial in Frohna offers tours, fresh oven-based bread, historic cabins, crafts and history. Scott City has much to offer as well, Nickell says, including a one-room Head Schoolhouse, Eisleben Lutheran Church, and antique shops, historic cemeteries, a railroad caboose and a new Mexican restaurant. Rocky Holler, just north of Jackson, opened for business during the first scenic drive, and, for 18 years, has been providing a down-home kind of place on 45 beautiful acres, he said.

“Visitors can step into a former age and time here,” Nickell said.

A new feature on the 18th Scenic Drive is the Tower Rock Alpaca Ranch near Uniontown, Mo. The ranch will be open for tours both Saturday and Sunday.

There will be many other special places to visit this weekend. Brochures describing all of the sites and activities are available at most of the sites, or by calling the Center for Regional History at (573) 651-2555 or the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 777-0068.