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Dining with Churchill

April 12, 2013
Westminster College President Barney Forsythe, Churchill author Cita Stelzer and National Churchill Museum Executive Director Rob Havers sit down to the same meal Winston Churchill was served at the college before giving his famous Sinews of Peace speech. Stelzer visited the college to promote her new book "Dinner With Churchill: Policy-Making at the Dinner Table." Photo by Dean Asher of The Fulton Sun.

Westminster College President Barney Forsythe, Churchill author Cita Stelzer and National Churchill Museum Executive Director Rob Havers sit down to the same meal Winston Churchill was served at the college before giving his famous Sinews of Peace speech. Photo by Dean Asher of The Fulton Sun.

“It has become fashionable to honor (Winston) Churchill at commemorative events by duplicating the meals he was served.”  ~ “Dinner with Churchill, Policy-Making at the Dinner Table,” by Cita Stelzer

I recently experienced a Churchillian meal when I joined author Cita Stelzer, and a small group of others, for a lunch that duplicated the meal served to Winston Churchill when he delivered a speech at Westminster College in Fulton.

Churchill delivered the Sinews of Peace speech as a part of the John Findley Green lecture series. President Harry Truman, Missouri’s native son, also was present that day in 1946 when Churchill first stated that “an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.” That phrase remains in our vocabulary more than 50 years later.

Westminster is home to the National Churchill Museum, which is housed below the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury. This 17th century London church, severely damaged during World War II, was moved to Fulton in the 1960s and restored brick by brick to the architect’s original specifications.

Stelzer has written a book about Churchill’s dinner-table diplomacy and has combed many archives to describe the meals at dinners where Sir Winston used “good food, excellent champagne and Havana cigars” to engage with others and cajole them to his point of view.  She was on campus at Westminster earlier this week for a book signing, and the school re-created the meal served to Churchill.

Like Sir Winston, we dined on Callaway ham (Fulton is in Callaway County), fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, buttered corn and rolls. Angel food cake with strawberry topping followed as dessert. The records indicate the meal was served “family style.” Sir Winston was quite pleased with this meal, particularly the ham.

This amazing experience allowed me to sit with Stelzer and her husband, Irwin; Westminster’s president Dr. Barney Forsythe and his wife, Jane; Dr. Rob Havers, executive director of the museum; and a few others to discuss Churchill lore. During the meal, we quizzed Stelzer on any and everything Churchill related, and she told of the wealth of stories she’d uncovered.

The college, the museum and library comprise a true gem, smack dab in the middle of Missouri. The campus has hosted many other players on the global stage, including former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev; former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; former president of Poland and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Lech Walesa; and former U.S. presidents Truman and Ronald Reagan.

I also learned Westminster continues to be a player on the global stage, hosting an annual symposium that brings renowned experts in a chosen field to campus for two days. Themes have included global health, democracy, sustainability and religion.

I love history, so this was a true treat. While they don’t regularly serve the Iron Curtain speech lunch, I highly recommend you visit the campus and the museum. It’s so worth it.

Learn more at the National Churchill Museum’s website.

Spring Capers in Cape Girardeau

April 9, 2013
Cape Girardeau makes for a great spring getaway.

Cape Girardeau offers a scenic spring getaway.

Cabin fever getting you down? Restless and need to get away? Make plans for a springtime getaway to Cape Girardeau.

Bridge at Spring

Cape Girardeau offers something for everyone.

With excellent local shops found throughout Cape Girardeau, you’re sure to find treasures galore. Featuring local gift emporiums, home décor shops, specialty boutiques and a thriving antiquing district, Cape Girardeau is bursting with unique places to peruse; everyone will ask where you got that one-of-a-kind item!

Consider planning your visit around one of our many springtime events. The Russian National Ballet Theatre will perform the classic “Swan Lake” at the River Campus’ Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall on April 26.

The 23rd annual Mississippi River Valley Scenic Drive is happening April 27-28, and the Fort D Memorial Day Weekend timeline includes reenactors May 25-27.

Regina Carpenter and Jim May are the featured storytellers at “An Evening of Storytelling” on May 17. For more information on the above events, check out our online calendar.

You’ll find something for everyone – only in Cape Girardeau – from Civil War buffs to outdoor enthusiasts and shopaholics to theatre fans. Check out to find out more.

Written by Stacy Dohogne Lane, director of public relations at the Cape Girardeau CVB.

The City of Fountains

April 2, 2013
One of Kansas City's most well-known fountains is the Henry Block Fountain in front of Union Station.

One of Kansas City’s most well-known landmarks is the Henry Block Fountain outside Union Station.

Kansas City is known for many things – among them jazz, barbecue and fountains – all of which add to KC’s unique culture.  As a native, I’m proud to say I was exposed to all at an early age. But what seems to surprise most visitors are our beautiful and vast amount of fountains.

When I was growing up, fountains served a practical purpose – they were a way to cool off in the summer. In fact, the city’s first fountains were created to provide clean drinking water for animals. Apparently, the horse population in 1910 was about 70,000. Today, the horse population is much smaller and fountains serve more aesthetic than practical purposes. Although, I’m sure a child is still known to jump in, and there’s occasionally a dog caught getting a drink.

The fountains in Kansas City range from majestic to whimsical, public and private, and span across the entire metro area. Because new fountains are added regularly, no one knows exactly how many fountains are in the metropolitan area, but at last count there were more than 200. Only Rome, Italy is said to have more.

Many may not know this, but it is an unwritten policy that a fountain of some sort be incorporated into the design of any major new public or commercial building project. Recent projects such as the Power & Light District and the Legends Outlets, which operates its fountains year-round, have included fountains in their development.

The fountains of Country Club Plaza are well known for their beauty.

Country Club Plaza has several beautiful fountains.

Probably the most popular area to see lots of fountains is the Country Club Plaza. But fountains can be found all across the city. The City of Fountains Foundation keeps a database of all of Kansas City’s waterworks at

The fountains flow through spring and fall. So, as we anticipate flowers blooming in spring we also anticipate the opening of KC’s fountains.

Every April, Kansas City’s fountains come to life. Mark your calendars, because this year’s Greater Kansas City Fountain Day is Tuesday, April 9. The opening celebration takes place at the Children’s Fountain, 32nd Street and North Oak Trafficway, at 11 a.m. April 9.

Another fountain event to put on your calendar is the KC Festival of Fountains on Sunday, June 9, at the stunning Henry Block Fountain in front of Union Station.

So as you are driving around KC, see how many fountains you can spot!  Betcha you can’t find the 200 plus!

From Toni Alexander, communications manager at the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association.

Five Reasons to Get Excited About Baseball Season

April 1, 2013
Busch Stadium is one of baseball's best, according to Trip Advisor.

Busch Stadium is one of baseball’s best, according to Trip Advisor.

Baseball season begins Monday. Finally, the boys of summer are back.

While it might be hard to get too excited about baseball season – considering our recent weather – this truly is a great time of year to be a baseball fan in Missouri.

In fact, here are just five (of many) reasons you should be happy baseball season is now underway:

  1. Awesome baseball stadiums: According to Trip Advisor, two of the top 10 baseball stadiums in the country
    Kauffman Stadium is a great place to catch a game.

    Kauffman Stadium is a great place to catch a game.

    are in Missouri. Both Busch Stadium in St. Louis and Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City made Trip Advisor’s list. Congrats to both! Find tour information for Busch Stadium here and for Kauffman Stadium here.

  2. Negro Leagues Baseball Museum: If you’ve never been to this museum, you’re missing out. It’s both a baseball fan and history buff’s dream come true. A great collection of memorabilia and wonderful stories await. The museum is located in Kansas City’s Historic 18th and Vine District and is connected to the American Jazz Museum.
  3. Han Solo is coming to Missouri: Actor Harrison Ford plays Branch Rickey (Brooklyn Dodgers GM) in the upcoming film “42,” which tells the story of baseball great Jackie Robinson. Ford will be in Kansas City for a special screening of the film on April 11. Robinson played for the Negro League’s Kansas City Monarchs franchise; proceeds from the special screening will benefit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
  4. Home openers: The Cardinals and Royals open their 2013 seasons on the road, but both return to the Show-Me State for their home openers on April 8. There’s nothing like joining 40,000 of your closest friends for hot dogs, cold beverages and cotton candy – maybe a little barbecue, too – on the home team’s turf.
  5. Tomorrow’s stars play here: Missouri is blessed to have minor-league teams, including the The Springfield Cardinals, who begin their 2013 campaign on April 11 against Corpus Christi. Another great minor-league team, the O’Fallon-based River City Rascals, plays its first game May 10.

There you have it, five great reasons to get geared up for baseball season in Missouri. Expand your outing and make a week or weekend of your baseball-focused getaway. In fact, if you like both baseball and brews, you might click on the image below to see a custom Trip Idea courtesy of

baseball and brews

Enjoy the season and remember to root, root, root for the home team.

Facing Outlaw Run

March 28, 2013
Enjoy Outlaw Run ... it's a scream.

Enjoy Outlaw Run … it’s a scream.

Missouri Division of Tourism staff photographer @Ben2Mo recently returned from Silver Dollar City in Branson, where he was among the first to ride the theme park’s new Outlaw Run roller coaster.

To see how he experienced the coaster, WATCH THIS VIDEO and pay close attention to his facial expressions.

When Ben regained full use of his faculties, we sat down for a quick Q&A about his experience on the second-fastest wooden coaster in the world – one that has a 16-story drop at an 81-degree pitch, plus a double barrel roll.

@Ben2MO is a bit of roller-coaster junkie, so riding Outlaw Run was akin to sending an Elvis fan to Graceland. By his count, he’s ridden 15 different coasters, including those found at Missouri’s major theme/amusement parks (Silver Dollar City, Six Flags, Worlds of Fun) and a couple down south, where a mouse with Missouri ties runs the show.

Q: What are the most thrilling, or scariest rides you previously have ridden?

A: This is probably a tossup between Six Flags – St. Louis’ “The Batman” and the ride home from Six Flags on Highway 50 after riding “The Ninja” 12 times back-to-back.

Q: Outlaw Run is a wood coaster. What makes wood coasters different from their steel counterparts?

A: Wood coasters are inherently a little bumpier ride, which adds to the fun and excitement. Though, I have to say that Outlaw Run is probably the smoothest wooden coaster I have ever ridden.

Outlaw Run ... that's pretty much all that needs to be said.

Outlaw Run … that’s pretty much all that needs to be said.

Q: What was your thought process as you slowly inched up the incline, then sped through some of the drops, twists and turns?

A: My initial thought after leaving the station was just amazement at being one of the first people to ride a coaster that holds so many titles, like having the steepest drop in the world for a wooden coaster.

In the video, you can even notice me mouthing “How is this my job?” during the climb to the peak. I liked how the ride designer teased a little bit with that first mini-drop, only to have the bottom drop out a moment later.

Right about the first inversion, I was definitely freaked out a bit by the fact that my backside wasn’t actually touching the seat. Thank goodness for solid lap restraints.

Between the drops, the banks and just the speed of the ride, there were several points of “airtime” which probably explains all of my strange facial expressions. And there really isn’t a good way to describe that double barrel roll at the end, knowing it’s happening on a wooden coaster.

Q: Outlaw Run reaches 68 mph; what about the speed?

A: The speed is a good and a bad thing, all at the same time. It makes for the most intense ride experience I’ve ever had, but also means the ride is over sooner than I wanted, like any ride. Though I will say, it definitely feels plenty long right after you are finished.

Q: Would you recommend Outlaw Run to a friend?

A: Absolutely! I have already been telling people about how awesome this ride is and we are actually planning a family vacation to Branson this summer. I am definitely looking forward to being the expert in the family about this particular ride.

There you have it; a first-hand account of Outlaw Run. After you ride, share your thoughts in the comments section below. And be sure to watch the video anytime you need a laugh – our staff sure has enjoyed it – and Ben’s been a great sport!

Shopping, Dining and Fun in Parkville

March 27, 2013
The Parkville Art Fair offers a great excuse to explore Parkville.

The Parkville Art Fair offers a fun atmosphere for the entire family.

Are shopping and dining your secret pleasures? If so, you’ll fall in love with Historic Downtown Parkville’s eclectic collection of galleries, specialty shops, vintage boutiques, and unique eateries.

Discover an interesting selection of merchandise, including handmade and personalized gifts; fine and fun art; one-of-a-kind crafts; jewelry; home décor; books; and collectibles not found in big-box retail stores. From antiques to ant farms, gourmet teas to T-shirts, rubber stamps to ribbon trim, fine art to financial planning – this delightful old-town district offers it all – and more.

Spring and summer bring Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations, weddings, and other special occasions to enjoy downtown Parkville’s charming, nostalgic ambiance. Most of the original buildings from the 1800s still stand on Main Street. You’ll enjoy the colorful backdrop for shopping and dining. Spend a day, or just a few hours – there’s always something to see and do.

Take a stroll along the riverfront. Savor a good cup of coffee or fragrant tea. Play a round of miniature golf. Browse antiques, vintage treasures, and locally crafted art and jewelry. Taste great wines. Focus on science. Find a unique gift. Or relax and watch the trains go by as you dine on French, Mediterranean, Mexican, Italian, American and South American cuisine.

You’ll also want to take in at least one, if not all, of the many annual festivals and events. This year’s line-up includes:

  • Parkville Cruise Nights, First Saturdays, April-September (with the exception of July), 4 p.m.-8 p.m.: Find your dream ride while you listen to cool tunes, cruise hot wheels, and take in the sights, shopping and dining up and down Main Street.
  • 10th Annual Parkville Microbrew Fest, Saturday, April 27, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.: Further your fine-crafted beer education while you enjoy good grilled eats, rockin’ live music and a great day in English Landing Park.
  • 18th Annual Parkville River Jam – Jazz, Blues and Fine Arts, June 14-15: A music-packed, two-day festival for family and neighbors showcasing musicians, artists and fantastic food from around the Kansas City area and beyond.
  • Parkville July 4th Celebration, July 3-6: Bring the whole family for a taste of good old-fashioned Americana. This traditional salute to Independence Day includes a parade, carnival rides, fireworks and more.
  • Parkville Days, Aug. 23-25: Something for everyone – music, carnival rides, more than 100 craft and art booths, a Saturday parade, good eats, games and fun for the whole family.
  • Third Annual Parkville Days “Run by the River” 5K, Aug. 24: Parkville Days 5K Run leads the parade Saturday morning. The run is a fundraiser for Christmas on the River.
  • “Through the Woods” 5K Trail Run, Nov. 2, Parkville Nature Sanctuary: This beautiful run winds its way along the White Tail Trail to picturesque Park University grounds and finishes on the White Tail and Bluebird trails. The run is a fundraiser for Christmas on the River.
  • Light up the Night, Nov. 30: Downtown officially welcomes the sights, sounds and joys of the holiday season with a lighting ceremony, special activities and open houses.
  • Christmas on the River, Dec. 6-7: Our famous, family style celebration greets the season with live entertainment, special activities, Santa’s arrival and our spectacular fireworks display.

Visit to learn more.

From Danelle Nichols, executive director of Main Street Parkville Association.

Quilting Retreat – Sew Much Fun

March 23, 2013

If you’ve never been to a quilting retreat, you’re missing out.

I recently attended one at Country Club Hotel and Spa at Lake of the Ozarks. Here’s how it works: you get to sew for an entire weekend; you don’t have to cook, clean-up, make beds or anything of the sort.

Each year the Missouri River Quilt Guild (MRQG) arranges two retreats for its members – one in the spring and one in the fall. At the spring retreat you get door prizes, sew, make lotto blocks, sew, have a secret sister, sew, take classes to learn a new skill, sew, shop at vendor booths, sew, eat, and did I mention sew? At the fall retreat we sew, eat and sew some more.

When you arrive at the retreat, you choose where you want to sew, and then unpack your sewing machine, cutting mat, rulers, rotary cutter, scissors, fabrics, and any other items you brought to use. This year’s room was large (two indoor tennis courts). The tables are arranged in nice straight rows when quilters arrive, but that arrangement doesn’t last long.

A mother, sister, cousin and friend rearrange the tables into a large square so they can chat and sew at the same time. Three others put two tables back to back and add one to the end of that grouping and so on and so on. The chatter, laughter and sounds of machines humming along are interrupted for the evening meal.

Retreats offer all the therapy quilters need.

Retreats offer all the therapy quilters need.

Various committees are assigned to do different jobs. One committee makes table favors for each of the five meals served during the retreat. All 58 registered quilters received favors at each meal, meaning a whopping 290 favors were made.

These five items consisted of a small bowl/bag made out of fabric to set by your machine to collect the threads and scraps you snip as you sew; a heart-shaped pin – made of cloth and decorated – to wear; a small bag for storing goodies; a mug rug – to set a drink and snack on; and a fabric tag to attach to a bag.

Another committee (the door-prize fairies) contacts various quilting businesses to acquire door prizes. Some very talented members also donate items for this endeavor. One makes beautiful quilted tote bags and donates several. Another makes pincushions (last year I thought a battle would break out over a cute turtle design). Some won a new book or a couple fat quarters (one-fourth yard of material cut in a special way). Others got new patterns, a new notion and a few received a batting (fluffy stuff inside quilts) for their next project.

While at the retreat, I took a string-piecing class. I learned how to make a string pieced churn dash block. The “strings” are actually various width strips of fabric. I think it will make a great wall hanging – when I get around to quilting it.

So, you might be thinking, “You can sew at home. Why would you want to pack up and leave your family behind for a weekend?”

Well, in days gone by, people hosted quilting bees; today, retreats are the way to go. Both boil down to the same

2013 raffle quilt

This quilt has been juried into a show in Paducah.

thing: a day or weekend spent doing what you love (sewing) with close friends and family with a great deal of food mixed in.

During the retreat, MRQG received word the quilt it plans to raffle at its next quilt show has been juried into the Paducah quilt show. This is a great honor for the group and everyone was thrilled at the news.

MRQG will host a quilt show at the Lewis and Clark Middle School in Jefferson City during the first weekend in June. When it’s wrapped up, I’ll have another story to share.

Until then, happy sewing.

From Debbie Steffan, avid quilter and the fiscal and administrative manager at the Missouri Division of Tourism.