Sikeston, Missouri, is tucked into the bootheel of the state. While the town is small, there are always big things going on downtown. The area has growing businesses and shops, local festivals and a historical museum for locals and visitors to enjoy.dsc_0549

Several shops line the streets of downtown like Joy’s Bridal — a locally owned dress shop — and Personal Expressions, a gift shop that sells handbags, home decor and jewelry. Visitors can also stop in for clothes at Falkoff’s or grab a bite to eat at the family-owned Kirby’s Sandwich Shop.

Sikeston’s Historical Director Lynn Lancaster says the area has plenty of options for visitors, and business is increasing. He says there is a long list of places to purchase items like clothing, books and antiques. He also says he tries to ensure the buildings of the shops are maintained, and he is pleased to see younger owners returning them to their original brick and mortar condition of the late 1800s.

“They’ve recently bought a building on Front St. and torn all the 1970s aluminum facade off, and now the building is back in its original, historic shape,” Lancaster says. “It looks really good, and we’re hoping that’s adopted and it starts everybody getting the buildings back to that old look that they need.”

Lancaster also says Sikeston’s various festivals keep downtown busy throughout the year. He says there are two spring events — the St. Patrick’s Day celebration and Sikeston in Bloom — but the largest events downtown are the Wine Fest in September and the the Cotton Ramble Bike Ride in October.dsc_0552

During Wine Fest the streets are blocked off and people enjoy food, music and good company while participating in a wine tasting. Lancaster says this event draws nearly 800 people every year, but the bike ride is when downtown has the most activity. The bike ride takes place in October and starts at the old train depot. While riders make their way down the trail, downtown holds a festival in the American Legion Park.

In the fall, when cotton covers the fields, the Cotton Ramble Bike Ride begins. The ride offers visitors a choice of 15-, 26-, 65- and 100-mile bike routes, which allow riders to stop along the way for a tour of a working cotton gin. At American Legion Park, visitors can find more live music, food and homemade crafts while the cyclists are on their journey. Lancaster says though the spring events are always a fun experience, he considers fall the best season to visit the downtown area.

“I would say probably fall would be our prime time because the leaves are changing, cotton’s still in the fields and to people that aren’t from the South that’s like going to Florida and picking oranges,” Lancaster says.  “Cotton is something everybody likes to look at.”

When visitors drive through downtown Sikeston, a large red train car can be seen near the side of the street. Next to the train car is the old train depot, which is home to a small museum that holds much of the history of the town. Inside are details about the town’s founding in 1860 and glass cases of memorabilia donated to the museum by locals depicting Sikeston’s growth over time. Lancaster says if visitors are looking to get to know the town, the depot museum is the place to go.

Lancaster says Sikeston is an all-American town which adds to its charm. He says he suggests visitors take a historic homes tour and visit at any time of year to immerse themselves in the history, festivals and shopping. Lancaster says people should visit downtown because a person cannot know a town unless they have seen the heart of the city, and for Sikeston, downtown is its heart and soul.