2003 Best of Rural Missouri
wasnt easy, but somehow we got all of the entries
to the second-annual Best of Rural Missouri Readers Choice Awards
tabulated. This time we had twice as many entries. In fact, there
were 20,000-plus votes in the 34 categories.
Based on last years response and some
requests, we changed a few of the categories. For example, we added
catfish because, to be honest, our editors really like the stuff.
Many readers wondered how we could have left best winery off of last
years list so we added that, too. We also focused one
of the restaurant categories, calling it Dining Worth the Drive.
The name change didnt change the results much as you will see.
thanks to everyone who took the time to fill out the ballot and mail
to Roger and Mary Sherrell of Dixon who were the winners of the Made
in Missouri gift basket.
hope you will take the time to visit some of our winners as you travel
the state this summer. Look for 2004 contest ballots in Rural Missouri this fall.
Worth the Drive
First: Lamberts, Sikeston and Ozark
Second: The Pear Tree, Bevier
Third: Caveman, Richland
For the second time Lamberts, home of the Throwed Roll, was
an easy winner. The elegant Pear Tree again took second while the
Caveman, located in a cave with one of the states best views,
edged out Warsaws Benton House by one vote for third place.
We changed the name of this category to more accurately reflect what
we were looking for in a restaurant and those entering seemed to understand.
Once again the city eats didnt score well with our readers proving
good food is worth the drive.
Editors choice: Any restaurant thats been around
since the 30s must be doing something right. We think youll
agree Pacifics Red Cedar Inn is well worth a drive down Route
First: Morelands, Vienna
Second: LeMaires, Sedalia
Third: Catfish Kettle, Farmington
By all rights, MODOT should have killed Morelands when it moved
Highway 63 a few miles away. Instead the restaurant perched high above
the Gasconade River fills to capacity most weekends serving huge filets
to an overflow crowd and thats without a sign to point
the way. Beating LeMaires, which offers a Cajun flair, was no
small feat. And we were glad to learn about the Catfish Kettle, one
of two Farmington restaurants to make the cut.
Editors choice: Catfish should be served as close to
where its caught as possible. Thats why we like Hydes
Fish House in Broseley. Here you can eat and watch the fish play in
the ponds outside.
Best Old Fashioned Ice Cream Shop
First: Central Dairy, Jefferson City
Second: Rubys, St. James
Third: Saras, Ste. Genevieve
Once again no contest with the results the same as last year. All
three winners repeated in exactly the same order with Central Dairy
blowing away the competition by the largest majority in any category.
All three are a credit to the dairy industry.
Editors choice: Where else can you get a pineapple Pepsi
but at Winfields on Main Street in Eminence.
First: A Slice of Pie, Rolla
Second: Blue Owl, Kimmswick
Third: Cookys, Golden City
Some people like pie after their meal. Others like to make pie the
meal. Thats the reason A Slice of Pie was established. The Blue
Owl, which received a number of votes in the Dining Worth a Drive
category, apparently knows how to end a meal right. And Cookys
is one of those places you just know has good pie. Remember to eat
pie first so you dont get filled up.
Editors choice: Cowans in Washington makes pie
the way its supposed to taste.
First: 63 Diner, Columbia
Second: Booches, Columbia
Third: Wheel-In Drive-In, Sedalia
Want a great burger? Head to Columbia where the 63 Diners bigger-than-the-bun
burger, beat out last years winner, Booches. But for something
really different wheel into the Wheel-In, home of the Gooberburger.
Thats hamburger with peanut butter.
Editors choice: With a name like Bubbas Burger
Bar and Egg Emporium (in Moberly) its gotta be good.
First: Johnnys Smoke Stak, Rolla
Second: Kehdes Barbecue, Sedalia
Third: The Warehouse, Farmington
Notice anything unusual about this years winners? First of all,
Johnnys repeats as champion and by a wider margin than ever.
We think its because of the succulent sauce. Plus you cant
leave their barbecue buffet hungry. What is surprising is the lack
of a Kansas City winner. Last year Bryants and Gates took second
and third. This year they hardly got a vote, proving outstate is the
place for things like ribs and burnt ends. Second place Kehdes
across from the state fair grounds lets you dine in old railroad
cars. If you visit our third-place winner try their baked potato buried
in meat. Now thats a meal!
Editors choice: Anytime a Missouri team goes to Memphis
and outcooks everyone else you gotta take notice. Thats why
we like Super Smokers in Eureka.
First: Stone Hill, Hermann
Second: St. James Winery, St. James
Third: Les Bourgeois, Rocheport
Another new category and an important one with Missouris wine
industry really coming into its own. This contest brings yet another
award to Missouris most awarded winery. But second place St.
James gets its share of the gold too. If the contest were judged by
view alone Les Bourgois would have been the winner with its location
on the Missouri River bluffs. Nearly all of Missouris 52 wineries
received votes, making us think this will be hotly contested next
Editors choice: There is something really different about
the wines we tasted at Peaceful Bend located between St. James and
Steelville. Their small batches sell out quickly.
First: Ha Ha Tonka, Camdenton
Second: Roaring River, Cassville
Third: Bennett Spring, Lebanon
Ha Ha Tonka repeats as your favorite park, making us wonder when DNR
will rebuild the castle. The trout parks scored high, with Roaring
River keeping Bennett in third place. Our readers really liked them
Editors choice: We like them all too since every park
has something unique to offer the visitor. But when it comes right
down to it, nothing compares to Johnsons Shut-Ins.
First: Wilsons Creek Battlefield, Republic
Second: Ha Ha Tonka, Camdenton
Third: (tie) Arrow Rock and Mark Twain Home, Florida
Now that we know where it is (Republic, not Springfield) we agree
Wilsons Creek holds a lot of history. Best bet is when one of
the reenactments is being held. Mark Twain continues to hold a fascination
for our readers both as a state park and an historic site.
Editors choice: Bollinger Mill State Historic Site at
Burfordsville also features a great covered bridge.
First: Oktoberfest, Hermann
Second: Festival of the Little Hills, St. Charles
Third: Olde Tyme Apple Festival, Versailles
Anytime is a great time to visit Hermann, Missouris Rhineland.
But for four weekends in Oktober Hermann puts on its best
for the Oktoberfest. Long before St. Charles was Missouris first
capital it was Les Petites Cotes (The Little Hills). This years
event is Aug. 15-17. Versailles touts the benefits of eating apples
which you can join them in doing Oct. 4.
Editors choice: In 1993 the Missouri River tried to wash
Hartsburg away. Citizens responded by having a Pumpkin Festival. For
two days in October the town turns orange.
Best Antique Hunting Spot
Second: St. Charles
Ozark and St. Charles repeat as the place to browse, but Jamesport
finally gets much-deserved recognition .
Editors choice: Pierce City offers great hunting during
Best Art Gallery
First: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City
Second: St. Louis Art Museum
Third: Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia
The big cities win on this one but the Daum shows art is alive in
Editors choice: Many small towns have embraced the arts.
Our favorite is Bolivars Dunnegan Gallery.
Best Flea Market
First: Wentzville Community Club Flea Market, Wentzville
Second: The Big Pevely Flea Market, Pevely
Third: Johnstons Rutledge Flea Market, Rutledge
In its 25th year, Wentzvilles community flea market repeats
as our readers choice but close on its heels is the big one
in Pevely. Irvin is gone, but third-place Rutledge in northeast Missouri
is the same monster event we once featured in Rural Missouri. We like
all three because there are people to haggle with on prices and not
Editors choice: When the St. Francois County Fair isnt
being held the fairgrounds near Farmington is one big flea market.
Best Farmers Market
First: Soulard Market, St. Louis
Second: City Market, Kansas City
Third: Columbia Farmers Market
It makes sense to take your produce to the city where they cant
grow it on their own. This year first and second swap places. Soulard
is more than just a market, its an entire neighborhood of ethnic
delights, the sole survivor in a city that once supported many such
places. In Kansas City go on Wednesday night when its all organic.
Editors choice: We think its great when the city
folk buy direct from the farmer. Missouri has 77 farmers markets
and we like them all. Check out Greene Countys Market at the
Mill, Wommack Mill that is.
First: Dicks 5 & 10, Branson
Second: Cranes, Williamsburg
Third: Arrow Rock Country Store, Arrow Rock
Dicks in downtown Branson is the way old stores used to be,
full of weird, wacky stuff you didnt know you could still buy
anywhere. Cranes offers a great place to swap tall tales and
buy yourself a pair of Carhartts. And Arrow Rock is the town that
Editors choice: Check out Champions store if you
can find it.
First: Silver Dollar City, Branson
Third: Country Club Plaza, Kansas City
Many years ago Branson discovered people would come visit year round
if they left the lights on. Now the Ozark Mountain town is as popular
in winter as it is in summer. The lighting of country Club Plaza is
a Missouri tradition too.
Editors choice: Everyone likes the lights but to put
the true meaning of Christmas back in the event you need to experience
the Las Posadas procession in St. Charles.
Best Town to Live In
If theres a trend it is college towns, maybe some good memories
going on here? Columbia and Springfield repeat for the top spots while
Rolla knocks Jeff City out of the top three.
Editors choice: Spend a day or a lifetime in Shannon
County. With a slogan like that, Eminence welcomes all.
An old town wins this new category and we couldnt agree more.
Visit it soon when the dogwoods and redbuds are in bloom.
Editors choice: Speaking of dogwoods, Charleston is Missouris
old South. Check for blooming times and dont miss the Azalea
Best Bed and Breakfast
First: Schoolhouse, Rocheport
Second: Painted Lady, St. James
Third: Garth-Woodside Mansion, Hannibal
Our winner offers a great place to stay and a lot of other attractions
too in this quaint little town. Second place is a real site to see,
and close to trout fishing or wine country. Mark Twain spent many
a night under the roof of our third place winner.
Editors choice: Relax at Rock Eddy Bluff near Dixon where
you can watch the bald eagles soar.
Best Sporting Event
First: St. Louis Cardinals
Second: Kansas City Chiefs
Third: MU football
We dont care what the Braves say: Before baseball moved west
the Cardinals were Americas team. They still are in our book.
The Chiefs may not win a lot but they still have the best tailgaters
in the country. Is Mizzou football back? Maybe not in the standings
but they are in the hearts of our readers.
Editors choice: Forget football, MU basketball is tops
in our opinion. Wait till next year!
Best Town Square
Some towns never gave up on downtown and Carthage is one of them.
Clintons the same way and you can feel the history in Fayette.
Editors choice: West Plains is rebuilding their downtown
and we think thats a good thing.
Best Weekend Getaway
Second: St. Louis
Third: Lake of the Ozarks
No doubt about it, Branson is the No. 1 destination.
Editors choice: We pick any one of Missouris state
parks or scenic rivers.
Best Romantic Getaway
Second: Big Cedar Lodge, Ridgedale
Third: Tan-Tar-A Resort, Lake of the Ozarks
Who says romance is dead? Branson is best, and Big Cedar narrows it
Editors choice: See Best Bed and Breakfast.
Best Summer Getaway
Second: Lake of the Ozarks
Third: St. Louis
Whatever the reason or the season, Branson is your choice. But where
do Bransons residents go to get away? Must be Lake of the Ozarks
or St. Louis.
Editors choice: St. Joseph keeps adding places to see
and things to do.
Best Day Trip
First: St. Louis Zoo
St. Louis has a world class zoo that keeps improving and the
price is right too. Hermann might require more than a day if you didnt
bring a designated driver and Branson definitely begs an overnight
Editors choice: The Arcadia Valley, including Arcadia,
Pilot Knob and Ironton.
Best Camping Spot
First: Bennett Spring State Park, Lebanon
Second: Roaring River State Park, Cassville
Third: Mark Twain State Park, Stoutsville
Apparently our readers like to camp where they can fish.
Editors choice: We think the state parks are too comfortable.
To really experience camping you have to rough it in the Mark Twain
National Forest. Best bet is Loggers Lake near Bunker.
First: Lake of the Ozarks
Second: Table Rock
Third: Truman Lake
No surprises here, this is exactly how the contest went last year.
Lots of people voted for the winners in this category.
Editors choice: Piedmonts Clearwater Lake is smaller
but just as clear as Table Rock.
Best Fishing Spot
First: Bennett Spring
Second: Truman Lake
Third: Table Rock Lake
Everyone likes Bennett and now we know why. Wade fishing is a different
sport than is practiced on the big lakes. Once again no one shared
their secret holes but we have hope for next year.
Editors choice: Pomme de Terre for one reason: muskie.
First: Current River
Second: Niangua River
Third: Meramec River
No contest here, the Current reigns supreme. It has it all, cold water,
towering bluffs and lots of gravel bars.
Editors choice: Smaller and a little tricky but similar
to our winners is the Courtois and Huzzah creeks, two clear water
Best Outdoor Adventure
First: Katy Trail
Third: Deer hunting
Katy surprises us, bicycling is hard work.
Editors choice: The Ozark Trail needs you.
First: Meramec Caverns, Stanton
Second: Marvel Cave, Branson
Third: Onondaga Cave, Leasburg
Missouri is known as the cave state, and our readers had a lot to
choose from. These three are all show caves.
Editors choice: Mark Twain wrote, By and by somebody
shouted, Whos ready for the cave? Mark Twain
Cave in Hannibal (Injun Joes Cave in the books) gets our vote.
Best Golf Course
First: Highland Springs Country Club, Springfield
Second: St. James Golf Course, St. James
Third: Bent Creek Golf Course, Jackson
Highland Springs moves Bent Creek from first to third this year while
the St. James municipal 9-hole gets some recognition.
Editors choice: Fourche Valley at Potosi is called
the Jewel of the Ozarks for good reason.
Best Place to Take the Kids
First: Silver Dollar City, Branson
Second: St. Louis Zoo
Third: Worlds of Fun, Kansas City
Vote how you will, we still think Grandmas is the place.
Editors choice: Grants Farm in Afton is fun and
Best Summer Camp
First: Kanakuk, Branson
Second: Camp Wonderland, Lake of the Ozarks
Third: Clover Point 4-H Camp, Lake of the Ozarks
Summer camp brought back pleasant memories for everyone.
Editors choice: For cold showers, primitive cabins and
great memories its Sherwood Forest at Cuivre River State Park,