College of the Ozarks is a unique, diverse university offering a tuition-free education to students across the country. Students run and operate all campus functions from milking cows, to waiting tables in Dobyns Dining Room. Visitors have the opportunity to fund student’s education by visiting campus and purchasing from a wide variety of student-made products. Below I lead you through a copious list of the things to do at The College of the Ozarks.
Past the stunning gates of College of the Ozarks lies Edwards Mill. Serving as a time capsule for the 1800s, Edwards Mill features a studio for basket weaving along with old-time looming, a miniature 1800’s farmers’ museum, and most fascinating of all, a fully-functioning, old-fashioned gristmill.
Roaming the thick timber floors of Edwards Mill alone will take visitors on a stroll through time. College of the Ozarks seeks not only to educate their students but also their curious customers. Inside the Mill, a CofO student will happily answer any questions, while also walking customers through the entire process of their fully-functioning, student-operated gristmill. Visitors have the opportunity to purchase cornmeal, yellow grits, and a variety of mixes, all produced by Edwards Mill. Because the functioning of the gristmill remains old-fashioned, their cornmeal contains nutrients and flavor untouched by modern-day reproductions. Visitors will be educated on this primitive technique, and even get a look at the two-ton granite wheels involved in this process.
Along with the captivating functions of the gristmill, Edwards Mill also houses a basket weaving and looming studio. Customers can watch as students weave baskets by hand and even learn a thing or two on doing it themselves! CofO has just recently incorporated looming into this studio and the furthering of this textile production will be continued into the new year. For now, visitors can watch a fascinating video tutorial on how students use old-fashioned looms.
Downstairs customers will find the 1800’s farmers equipment museum rich with historical practices of a bygone society, and an educational self-guided tour of time’s past.
Through the back door of the miniature farmer’s museum, customers will have a view of beautiful swans floating along the placid waters of Lake Honor. To the left lies the towering waterwheel that once ran the gristmill. The gristmill has been electric-ran for two years for the efficiency of their products that tend to fly off the shelves.
All productions of Edwards Mill can be purchased by customers and will go to the furthering of students’ education.
The Stained Glass and Candle Shop
A recent development of CofO, now opened to the public, is the Stained Glass and Candle Shop. This shop, located right next to Edwards Mill, contains student-made candles and stained glass, all of which can be purchased. Students rotate through about 6 different scents for the candles. Though much effort and care go into the making of these unique scented candles, the real magic lies in the stained glass studio.
While the production of stained glass has been a long time practice for CofO students, only recently has CofO opened this special process to the public. Visitors can now watch as students carefully create the stained glass masterpieces found all around the campus. CofO will be opening a new Global War on Terrorism Memorial in the spring of 2019. Current visitors will be able to watch students make the five emblems of the military branches that are to be hung at this momentous memorial.
Along the walls, visitors will see numerous photos of keynote speakers that have visited the college campus. Students in the Stained Glass Shop have made all of these influential speakers a custom clock, seen in the photos of their store. These students have certainly honed their craft as they recently made a full stained glass guitar for visiting speaker, Amy Grant. The Stained Glass Shop does not currently accept custom requests, but there are plenty of stunning stained glass projects through which customers may browse and purchase.
The Hoge Greenhouses inhabit the massive Clint McDade Orchid Collection. Housing over 7,000 plants, The Hoge Greenhouses are opened to the public and visitors are welcome to explore the wide variety of plant species. If visitors are curious of the care involved with the eye-catching greenery of the campus, staff encourages guests to approach any CofO student-planters with their questions.
Not all plants are for sale, but there is a large assortment of plants that can be purchased. Students can help customers with this purchase and the care involved with their lush plant of choice.
Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen
A must-visit CofO exhibition is the Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen. Branson local’s favorite fruitcake and jelly preserves derive from this unique and quintessential nook nestled in the heart of CofO’s campus.
The Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen produces 2-3 batches of jelly a day, each batch containing around 100 jars of jelly. The kitchen also generates about 100 pounds of fruitcake every morning, Monday- Friday. The hardworking hands bringing such a seemingly insurmountable feat to life are, of course, Hard work U students.
The Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen invites visitors on an intimate tour through the making of their jelly preserves, fruitcakes, and creamery. Customers will be guided by a CofO student through this informative tour and have a chance to walk through the back kitchen of where this process happens. In the back kitchen, visitors will be overwhelmed with the sweet aroma of four industrial ovens baking CofO’s famous handmade fruitcakes. After baking, these fruitcakes will be sealed airtight in a cooler for 6-9 months before they’re available for purchase! The aging process creates the mouthwatering, rich flavors of local’s favorite one-of-a-kind fruitcake.
In addition, The Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen supplies all of the campuses ice-cream needs. Located in the Keeter Center, the kitchen produces 200 gallons of ice cream a week for the College Creamery. The students hand-mix the base of all the dairy acquired from the cows cared for locally on campus. Once put through their ice-cream machine, the Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen is able to deliver a variety of custards, sorbets, and gelatos to the College Creamery.
CofO’s famous fruitcake, 12 varied jellies, and amazing apple butter can all be found in The Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen storefront. These delectable treats cannot be found in any stores off campus and, all locals agree, are a must-try!
Williams Memorial Chapel
College of the Ozarks inspires a spirit of patriotism and Christ-like character for all visitors and students. Williams Memorial Chapel captures this vision impeccably and stands as an influential monument for all privileged spectators.
The Williams Memorial Chapel invokes an era of neo-Gothic architecture and has tourists flocking for a chance to view the breathtaking stained glass windows and nearly 100-foot vaulted ceilings. Believe it or not, this immaculate structure was built by College of the Ozarks students in 1956.
The inner walls of the Chapel lie embellished with plaques dedicated to chaplains who served and sacrificed their lives for our country.
The Chapel holds a service every Sunday at 11 a.m. These services are open to the public.
College of the Ozarks Memorials
In a bustling society where a veteran’s loss can be easily overlooked, College of the Ozarks ensures that the sacrifices made by these heroic men and women are never forgotten. Numerous CofO memorials stand as a continual reminder for students and visitors of CofO of the courage brought forth by these brave men and women. The seven memorials can be found in the campus map by name: The Missouri Vietnam Veterans Memorial, The Missouri Gold Star Families Memorial, The Lest We Forget 9/11 Memorial, Williams Memorial Chapel, Alumni Veterans Memorial, The Korean War Memorial, and coming in Spring of 2019, The Global War on Terrorism Memorial.
All memorials, unique and honoring various services, are located near the entrance of the College campus. Visitors will find these sites adorned with solemn bronze statues, sugar maple trees, and various remarkable monuments. The Lest We Forget 9/11 Memorial contains an actual steel column from The World Trade Center.
An unforgettable walk among these stunning memorials kindles an uplifting, yet sobering reminder of the heroic sacrifices given for the freedoms we cherish today.
Gaetz Tractor Museum
For the farmers, tractor lovers, and car enthusiasts, CofO has a completely free museum built just for you!
The Gaetz Tractor Museum is home to dozens of restored tractors, antique farm equipment, and even a genuine 1929 Ford Model A Huckster. This museum houses over 20 tractors with odes to John Deere, Oliver, Allis Chalmers, Ford Farmall, and McCormick. Hay Bale Chandeliers and industrial farm equipment hang overhead as visitors make their way through the expansive museum. The Gaetz Tractor Museum elicits a turn of the century nostalgia sure to educate and captivate a wide variety of generations.
Simply strolling through the campus of College of the Ozarks is a tranquil delight. Notable breathtaking sites include Point Lookout, Lake Honor, Mill Pond, and Doc Good Park and Pavillion. Point Lookout is a hidden gem located on the far west side of the campus. Here visitors will find the Ozarks’ most remarkable view of Lake Taneycomo. This observation site is not much advertised among the campus so it tends to remain private and serene.
The Keeter Center
The Keeter Center serves as a catch-all for the student made products. In here customers will find products from Edwards Mill, The Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen, and the Stained Glass and Candle Shop. If you find yourself home from vacation, but wishing you had stocked up on these exclusive products, you can browse their online store and satisfy your craving!
The Keeter Center voted as a top small hotel in the US by TripAdvisor, is home to Dobyns Dining Room, and The College Creamery.
All menu choices of this immaculate restaurant derives from the farms and the hard work contributed by CofO students. Dobyns Dining Room, however, is a hot commodity in Branson and visits should be reserved ahead of time. An experience at this restaurant provides visitors with a glimpse into the life of a dedicated CofO student. The produce, vegetables, and delectable desserts of Dobyns Dining Room were all produced, tended, or grown by CofO students; even the biscuits and cornmeal are specially manufactured by the old-fashioned gristmill of Edwards Mill.
If guests should have any questions about their dining experience, they may simply ask their waiter or waitress, as they will be a CofO student with an expansive knowledge of the menu.
The Keeter Center is also home to The College Creamery. This ice cream shop stands out from the rest as all of their ice cream is made fresh by students daily. The Creamery has a variety of flavors including: raspberry, Oreo mint, espresso, candy cane, coconut almond, strawberry, and many more. Click here for a detailed list of their featured ice cream flavors. Their flavorful choices vary between custard, sorbet, and gelato, and are supplied by CofO students in heaps of delicious, generous servings.
Ralph Foster Museum
A thread woven throughout every CofO attraction is a love and passion for the Ozarks. This fervency may be best displayed in the crown jewel of College of the Ozarks—The Ralph Foster Museum.
The Ralph Foster Museum, ever-growing with the area’s most interesting collections, has been attracting visitors from around the country since the early 1920s. Each floor within this museum, astounding and unique, serves as an ode to Missouri’s most beautiful region—The Ozarks.
The Ralph Foster Museum costs only 8 dollars for adults, 6 dollars for seniors, and 5 dollars for veterans. This is the only attraction on campus that charges visitors. However, this self-guided tour takes easily 2 hours to explore and is worth every single penny.
Visitors will find themselves completely captivated by the collections held within The Ralph Foster Museum. The first floor leads guests through an Ozark music time capsule embellished with the instruments and costumes of performers such as Andy Williams, and the cast of The Ozark Jubilee. Within the neighboring room, visitors will also come across hundreds of Kewpie dolls, donated by Rose O’Neill herself. On other floors, guest’s will be awestruck with collections of Native American artifacts (many of which were found within the Ozarks), several beautifully taxidermied animals, a walkthrough of the stunning conservation making up the Ozarks, and much, much more.
To skim through all exhibitions offered at the Ralph Foster Museum, click here.
Students recommend that guests take a short walk to the Star School on their way out. This intriguing schoolhouse remains frozen in time, allowing visitors to stumble into the look and feel of a typical early 1900’s school day.
For more fun activities offered by The Ralph Foster Museum, such as their free educational programs for children, click here.
From a collection of 1,288 firearms to the genuine Beverly Hillbillies truck, this CofO adventure is sure to grip the attention of spectators of all ages!
Proceeds from these amazing explorations and student-made products are funneled back into the education of thousands of students. What better way to spend an unforgettable experience in the beautiful rolling hills of the Ozarks! All locals agree The College of the Ozarks is an adventure you won’t want to miss.