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Travel Treasures
July/August 2015 Issue

Witness a big unveiling of small objects at superbly updated Kansas City museum


The miniature collection includes a tiny jewelry store (above). Noah’s Ark is among the antique toys on display (below). The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures photos


A tribute to toys and a mecca of miniatures will open on Aug. 1 in Kansas City, Mo., with the unveiling of The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures.

Opened in 1982 as the Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City, the facility was expanded twice over the years, but the added space couldn’t keep up with the growing collection, which now features more than 72,000 objects. So a capital campaign raised $10.7 million, and after a yearlong renovation that reworked the existing space, the renamed museum will show off an updated visitor experience, the world’s largest collection of fine-scale miniatures, and one of the largest collections of antique toys in the nation.

In the lobby, visitors will be greeted by a two-story rotating sculpture comprised of donated playthings. The assemblage re-creates bedtime stories, fairy tales, and imaginative play in whimsical scenes. In a new introduction space, a video will start visitors’ journeys through the art of the imagination.

Three new exhibitions will add to visitors’ enjoyment of the fine-scale miniature collection, including an artist’s studio that showcases how these detailed, diminutive works of art are constructed. A video shows artists cutting dovetail joints smaller than the lead of a pencil and throwing a dish the size of a quarter on a wheel.

The second floor features four main antique toy exhibits in addition to an area devoted to dolls. One of the exhibits explores the business side of playthings, including an interactive display where visitors can X-ray toys. The updated floor plan also includes two rotating exhibit spaces, which will focus first on pedal cars and Japanese Friendship Dolls.

Located at 5235 Oak St., the museum’s hours after Aug. 1 will be 10 a.m.–4 p.m. daily (closed Tuesdays). Admission is $5 for visitors 5 and up.

Call (816) 235-8000 or click on for more details.




Recovery on display at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park


In some areas of the park, visitors can’t even tell that the property was severely damaged 10 years ago. Missouri Division of Tourism photo

For proof that time heals all wounds, take a visit to Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park this summer.

The eastern Missouri park, located about 95 miles south of St. Louis, is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its recovery from a catastrophe that destroyed a large portion of the park. The beauty that had taken thousands of years to create was washed away in a matter of minutes when the AmerenUE Taum Sauk reservoir above the park ruptured in late 2005.

More than a billion gallons of water swept down Proffit Mountain and through the valley below, scouring a path to bedrock. Carrying tons of trees, debris, and boulders, the 20-foot wall of water destroyed many facilities in the park, including the campground, and altered the park’s landscape.

Yet from that low point emerged a saga of recovery. The rebirth began with a monumental clean-up, including the shut-ins area where the East Fork of the Black River cascades over and around volcanic rocks, forming a natural water park of chutes and waterfalls.

A boardwalk and trails were restored, and new paths were added. The campground was moved and enlarged, and a visitor center, the Black River Center, was built to tell the park’s story. And after 10 years, cottonwood and sycamore saplings are growing in the area scoured by the flood. The park will never be the same, but in some ways, it is even better.

The park is located at 148 Taum Sauk Trail near Middle Brook off State Highway N.

Call (573) 546-2450 or visit for more information.

Bosse Field celebrates its centennial

The Evansville Otters play at Bosse Field. Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau photo

In an era when professional sports stadiums have become disposable buildings, lasting barely 25 years before changing tastes and technologies render them obsolete, Bosse Field is a classic and beautiful anomaly.

Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, the baseball stadium in Evansville, Ind., looks today much as it did when it opened on June 17, 1915. Spearheaded by then-Mayor Benjamin Bosse, who convinced the city to invest $65,000 to build Evansville’s field of dreams, the stadium has been a treasured city landmark ever since.

Today the field is home to the Evansville Otters, who play in the independent Frontier League. It is the third-oldest operating ballpark in the country after Wrigley Field (1914) and Fenway Park (1912).

At Bosse, brick walls enclose the park with a semi-circular covered grandstand filled with wooden fold-down seats that overlook carefully chalked baselines and a manicured outfield. Because of its vintage look, the field was the primary site for filming the baseball games for the film A League of Their Own in 1991, which told the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that competed in the 1940s and early 1950s.

During the field’s inaugural season, fans could get a seat in the bleachers for a quarter. With inflation, that same seat will cost you $6 today, a bargain compared to the major leagues.

For tickets or more details, call (812) 435-8686 or visit

Harvest food and fun at Urbana Sweetcorn Festival


The end of summer is disappointing, but the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival gives Midwesterners the perfect send-off to the season with a celebration of central Illinois’ heavenly harvest.

In its 40th year, the event has grown into one of the largest festivals in the region, attracting more than 50,000 people from the Champaign-Urbana area and surrounding communities. Held Aug. 28–29 this year, the festival takes place in downtown Urbana and features live music, arts and crafts, and plenty of sweet corn.

In fact, more than 25,000 ears of sweet corn will be served during the festival. To ensure its freshness, the delicious corn is harvested by a local farm the day before the festival, and then it’s shucked with an antique steam engine.

Among the musical headliners for the weekend are The Church and the Psychedelic Furs. Also, nearly 50 vendors will sell arts, crafts, and other merchandise, and there will be a car show. Children’s activities will include inflatables, games, laser tag, and a climbing wall.

Festival hours are 5–11 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m.–11 p.m. on Saturday.

Call (217) 344-3872 for details or click on

Creativity abounds at Jour de Fete in Ste. Genevieve

The festival hosts more than 150 arts and crafts vendors. Ste. Genevieve Tourism photo

Founded in 1735, Ste. Genevieve has been welcoming travelers, traders, and artists for more than 275 years, and the quaint southeast Missouri town’s annual arts and crafts festival will continue that tradition this August.

Rich with historical homes, Ste. Genevieve’s French colonial setting provides the perfect atmosphere for the annual Jour de Fete, which will be held on Aug. 8–9. The festival has become one of the top craft festivals in the region, featuring more than 150 booths that celebrate creativity.

A host of activities will include a classic car show and historical home tours. The town’s French militia will demonstrate colonial military skills, and the Petite Chanteurs, the little singers of Ste. Genevieve, will perform. Also, there will be food booths and beer gardens with live music. Festival hours are 10 a.m.–6 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m.–4 p.m. on Sunday. Shuttle service from parking areas is available for a nominal fee.

Call (800) 373-7007 or click on for details.

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