Cape Girardeau: Bringing History and Meetings Alive

September 1, 2010

Destination CapeGirardeau

By Lisa Lance

Located on the western banks of the Mississippi, 115 miles from St. Louis, Cape Girardeau bills itself as the place “where the river turns a thousand tales.” Cape Girardeau’s rich history and close relationship with the Mississippi River are beautifully illustrated in one of the town’s signature attractions: the Mississippi River Tales mural. Painted on the Mississippi River floodwall, this series of 24 panels depicts the area’s history from 1200 A.D. to the present. The mural was completed in 2004 by Chicago’s Thomas Melvin Painting Studio and includes scenes such as the visit of Lewis and Clark in 1803, Cherokee tribe members on the Trail of Tears, the arrival of Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War, the city’s “Riverfest” celebrations in the 1980s and the $100 million Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge, which opened in 2003.

Take a Tour
Sherri Jenkins, senior administrative assistant at the Donald L. Harrison College of Business at Southeast Missouri State University, recently served as a co-coordinator for the annual meeting of the Missouri Division of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). The three-day event was held at the Drury Lodge in Cape Girardeau, and 145 members of the organization attended meetings, seminars, an open house reception and a banquet. One highlight of the weekend was a city tour, which Jenkins planned with the help of the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). The bus tour included the Mississippi River Tales Mural, the Missouri Wall of Fame, the Common Pleas Courthouse and Courthouse Park, the home of Marie Watkins Oliver (designer of the Missouri state flag), Southeast Missouri State University, Fort D and Cape Rock scenic overlook. The tour also included stops at the Red House Interpretive Center, Old St. Vincent’s Church and the Glenn House. These three stops included a separate tour of each attraction. About 40 people chose to go on the tour, and Jenkins says the comments from attendees were only positive. “People had a wonderful time and had great things to say about the guides.” In addition to coordinating the logistics of the tour, Jenkins says the CVB assisted with other details of the event. “The Convention and Visitors Bureau was very helpful to us in our promotional materials prior to the event,” she says, adding that the CVB provided items for the group’s registration bags, as well as literature for annual meeting attendees who did not go on the tour. The CVB offers a range of services to meeting and event planners. “I often work with groups in planning from the ground up on their meetings or events,” says Sarah Vickery, director of sales and marketing at the Cape Girardeau CVB. “I help them ‘cut through the red tape’ as far as securing facilities goes, for both meeting and lodging. I take every bit of information I possibly can from their meeting histories to help me best understand their unique needs and requirements. The CVB also can offer every attendee a welcome packet, as well as pre-printed name badges for the attendees. For larger events, we’ve even assisted with registration or set-up as needed. I can also assist in media relations for larger events.”

Historic Attractions
Some of the sites included in the city tour, such as the Red House Interpretive Center, Old St. Vincent’s Church and the Glenn House, are located in walking distance from each other in the historic downtown area. History buffs will enjoy the Red House Interpretive Center, which celebrates the life of Louis Lorimier, who was named Commandant of the District of Cape Girardeau in 1793, as well as the visit of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on November 23, 1803. The center is open April through November, Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., or by reservation. Admission is $3.00 for adults and $1.00 for children. Old St. Vincent’s Church is located directly across the street from the Red House. A striking example of English Gothic Revival architecture, the church was built in 1852 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The building features original pews and altars, hand-carved doors and more than 100 medieval-design masks. Admission is $3.00 for adults and $1.00 for children. Walk two blocks to the Glenn House, and travel back in time to glimpse life as it was in the 1800s. Also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this restored home was built in 1883 and occupied by David and Lulu Glenn and their family until 1915. This historic site is open May to October, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for children. The Glenn House is also available for private tours and events.

Modern Meeting Venues
The newest meeting facility in Cape is The Venue, which features 18,000 square feet of meeting space and six meeting rooms. The Venue can accommodate groups ranging in size from 30 to 1,100. This full-service facility has an on-site kitchen and catering service, audio-visual equipment, free shuttle to local hotels and a 10,000-square-foot outdoor garden. The Show Me Center arena, home to the Southeast Missouri State University men’s and women’s Redhawks varsity basketball teams, also serves as a banquet and meeting facility. The venue can accommodate 1,000 to 7,200 people on its main floor and has seven meeting rooms for smaller groups of up to 400.
The Show Me Center features a concession area and kitchen, Internet access, teleconferencing capabilities and 1,546 free parking spaces.
The Osage Community Centre is part of the City of Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Department and is surrounded by the 52-acre Osage Park. The 34,000-square-foot building can seat 1,400 people for a banquet, and also offers three separate meeting rooms, a concession area, a caterer preparation area and fitness area. The facility adjoins the 37-acre Cape Woods Conservation Area and is convenient to the Cape LaCroix hiking and biking trail. The Rose Bed Inn convention center, which also houses the Aartful Rose gallery, was built in October 2009. Erin Schloss, the facility’s gallery director and event coordinator, says the building was designed with flexibility in mind. “When you use it for conferences and meetings, the room is easy to work with,” she says, citing the center’s lighting, acoustics and flexibility of space. The banquet hall can accommodate up to 150 guests at round tables, up to 200 conference-style or up to 300 in a cocktail setting. The event space is also an art gallery, and the staff hosts a reception to introduce a new artist on the first Friday of every month. Other events held at the facility include weddings, financial seminars, business conferences and a beauty pageant. The Rose Bed Inn also offers lodging, fine dining, on-site laundry facilities and a spa area with a hot tub, sauna and tanning bed. The inn has 21 rooms total, including a single-unit, three-bedroom house that can sleep up to eight people, and two cottages with one bedroom each. The innkeepers stay on the grounds all the time. “That’s something we take pride in,” says Schloss. “It’s our home as well as a business. We really want the guests and event planners to feel at home.” Menus are priced per person, starting at $9.95 for breakfast, $12.95 for brunch or lunch and $29.95 for dinner. Hors d’oeuvres are also available, and range in price from $6.95 to $19.95 per person. Lunch and dinner entrees include basil chicken Wellington, Asian glazed game hen, surf and turf and London broil. The inn’s chef will accommodate any dietary restrictions with advance notice. Other restaurants to consider for private events include the Buckner Brewing Co., Celebrations Restaurant and Bella Italia Ristorante. The Buckner Brewing Co. offers three separate banquet rooms to accommodate groups from 25 to 175. The venue’s largest space, the River View Room, features views of the river and the Emerson Bridge. Celebrations Restaurant offers two spaces for private groups. The Studio can seat up to 50 guests, and the Green Room is designed for parties of 10 to 20. Celebrations Restaurant is run by the Girardeau Restaurant Group, which also operates two other locations: Celebrations Downtown, which can accommodate groups ranging in size from 20 to 120 guests, and Celebrations the Tower, which can accommodate smaller groups of up to 40 attendees. Bella Italia Ristorante has a banquet room that can hold 70 guests for a banquet or up to 100 with theater-style seating. Several buffet options are available, ranging from $12.95 to $16.95 per person. Cape Girardeau offers a variety of attractions and event venues in a riverside setting filled with history, all found in a central Midwest location. “Our regional location makes us a prime destination for meetings and events,” says Vickery. “We are located right in between St. Louis and Memphis along Interstate 55, and we are the biggest city between St. Louis and Memphis. Because of our location on the Interstate, we are easily accessible to our neighboring states as well.”   MM&E

(Lisa Lance is a contributor from Towson, Md.)

Contact Information :
Sarah E. Vickery
Director of Sales and Marketing Cape Girardeau Convention & Visitors Bureau

573-335-1631, ext. 17
[email protected]

The Red House Interpretive Center
128 S. Main Street
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701

Old St. Vincent’s Church
629 William St.
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701
(573) 335-9347

The Glenn House
325 South Spanish St.
Cape Girardeau, MO 63702
[email protected]

The Venue
80 Independence Centre
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701


Abbie Jo Vander Bol
Show Me Center

(573) 651-2297
[email protected]

Parks & Recreation Department
Osage Community Centre

1625 N. Kingshighway
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701

Buckner Brewing
132 North Main Street
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701
(573) 334-4677

Erin Schloss, Gallery Director & Event Coordinator Rose Bed Inn Convention Center/Aartful Rose Gallery
611 S. Sprigg St.
Cape Girardeau, MO 63703
[email protected]

Celebrations Restaurant and Bar
615 Bellevue
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701

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