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Trails West!® - A Great Family Friendly Summer Send Off

St. Joseph might have gained notoriety among history buffs as the location where Jesse James’s crime spree ended but, this Missouri destination offers massive community events, a growing culinary scene, and plenty of family friendly attractions, making it the perfect spot to plan your next getaway. You’ll instantly fall in love with the city's historical attractions including the Jesse James Home, Buchanan County Courthouse, and the stables where the Pony Express began. Don't miss the opportunity to sample some the city's diverse culinary options at LakeHouse Restaurant & Bar and St. Joseph On The River Tavern.


Trails West!® is one of the largest art themed events in Northwestern Missouri, and will take place August 18-21, in Downtown St. Joseph. The event will feature more than 50 of the region's top artists and crafters selling and displaying a variety of one-of-a-kind creations. Patrons will find a variety of live performances on three stages including bands and singers representing various genres, variety shows, art demonstrations, story readings, science experiments, and more. Headlining this year's musical performances will be Trace Adkins, Clare Dunn, and Grand Funk Railroad. Food and refreshments will be available from a diverse collection of vendors selling everything from festival fare to gourmet snacks. Attendees can also take part in an Eclipse Viewing Party, which will feature music, chairs, and historical re-enactments.  The event works to help a variety of local charities. In fact, the event donated more than 1,400 admission buttons to a variety of local causes, and partnered with nine charities to raise funds last year. We got the chance to interview Cathy Ketter, a representative of the event, to learn more about this great all ages experience.


RAL: How long has the event been running.

CK: This is the 25th year of Trails West!®


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?

CK: We expect somewhere around 40,000 people.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?

CK: The event is family friendly, so anyone interested should join us.


RAL: Walk me through the activities of a typical day at the event.

CK: We have three stages of live entertainment, fine and folk artists (we’re a juried show), various food vendors, roving characters, and fun activities for all ages.


RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?

CK: There will be over 30 food vendors, selling a wide variety of food items.


RAL: Tell me about the overall environment.

CK: The event takes place at the Civic Center Park, which is behind our City Hall. It’s a vibrant and fun atmosphere, with something for everyone.


RAL: What will attendees find for lodging options?

CK: A wide variety of accommodations are available in St. Joseph. Follow the link to find more information.


RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?  

CK: Using the Arts and Economic Prosperity Calculator from Americans for the Arts, the festival had an economic impact of over $675,000. Locally, $71,500 was spent for security services, t-shirts, table and chair rentals, advertising, pop, ice, beer, etc., and 17 local performing arts groups featuring 174 artists were paid over $10,000.


RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?

CK: Trails West!® gives back to the community. To ensure everyone can attend Trails West!® we work with social service agencies. Last year Allied Arts Council donated over 1,400 admission buttons to social service agencies including United Cerebral Palsy, Air National Guard, Juda House, Calvin Center, Helen Davis State School, InterServ, MERIL, Progressive Community Services, Specialized Support Group, and Unity Home Corp. Nine local non-profits partnered with the Allied Arts Council to raise money for their organizations and causes. Longtime partner Kiwanis Club has worked the festival beer tent since the festival’s inception, raising money for their Coats for Kids program. The Benton Band Boosters used money raised from selling pop and water to help pay for band uniforms.


Trails West!® provides free art experiences to children each year. We were so happy to have the Pony Express Chapter of the Boy Scouts of America as this year’s Children’s Art leaders. Over 1,000 children created arts and craft projects to take home. We are thankful for not only the Boys Scouts volunteerism but also Home Depot for donating craft kits and providing volunteers to the festival.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

CK: The festival and the Allied Arts Council’s mission are one in the same: “To bring arts and people together.” We provide local, regional and national entertainment, and award winning fine and folk artists.

For more information about Trails West!®, please visit the event website.