When writer Richard Faulk set out to catalog the nation's oddest corners for his book Gross America, Leila's Hair Museum was an obvious choice. There, Leila Cohoon preserves and furthers the off-kilter artform of hair-based crafts, which stretches back to the 1700s and beyond. In a piece for CNN.com, Faulk notes that, in pre-photography days, Victorian artisans would "[weave] jewelry and decorative lace out of human hair" as a means of remembering departed loved ones, with "successive generations [sometimes adding] to the lacework to create a genealogical record, much like a family bible". In addition to these personal mementoes, Leila's collection includes 400 hair-based wreaths dating before 1900, and numerous reliquaries said to contain the hair of Mary, mother of Jesus, St. Anne, grandmother of Jesus, and pieces of the cross. Hair pieces belonging to Michael Jackson, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Lincoln, and other presidents also reside here. Although not hair-related, the museum also features a brooch that is said to contain threads from the coat of Joseph, father of Jesus. The quirky outpost has attracted the attention of racontours other than Faulk, too--noted gadabout Anthony Bourdain also paid a visit during an episode of his show No Reservations.
Known for its history as a pioneer town and home to former president Harry S. Truman, Independence welcomes visitors to its storied sites, making them more accessible with free trolley rides. Tour the 1859 Jail and Marshal's Home and Museum to glimpse a dwelling for law breakers next to a dwelling for a law keeper, and the clandestine tryst between the abodes that resulted in a museum. The Bingham-Waggoner Estate preserves many of the original art and furnishings of the famed Bingham and Waggoner families, while the National Frontier Trails Museum hails the starting point of the westbound pioneers with bronzed pieces of nuts, raisins, and chocolate bits tracing a path westward.
This duo of history-rich houses showcase antebellum architectural styles, while providing insight into the mores of the era. With four tour tickets total, the historically inclined can visit each house twice or bring a friend along for each visit, while family memberships net unlimited entries for the nuclear unit, along with advance invites to special society-only events. A Greek revival-style home from 1858, the John Wornall House beckons history lovers in to watch costumed reenactors living in the past, where they play period-specific video games while drinking period-specific Mountain Dew. Regular special events at the house include paranormal investigations by local ghost hunters and recreations of the house’s past as a Civil War hospital. Dogs can sprint across the lush grounds while their two-legged companions waft in luscious scents from the herb garden, which contains a variety of delicate plants used in medicines and recipes.
American Jazz Museum’s annual Rhythm & Ribs Jazz and Blues Festival is a one-day music extravaganza that colludes the talents of soulful singers, strummers, horn blowers, and string twangers across three performance stages. Headlining the event, the seven-member band War (10 p.m.–11:30 p.m.) blasts its funk melodies into the air. Before War takes the stage, Bobby “Blue” Bland (7:30 p.m.–9 p.m.) serenades the audience with sultry favorites, such as his rendition of Bill Withers' “Ain’t No Sunshine,” after Christian McBride with Inside Straight (5 p.m.–6:30 p.m.) cues the miniature musician living inside his standup bass to play a euphony of soul. Throughout the day, patrons can indulge in fare from local food vendors (not included with this Groupon) such as City Bar-B-Q, snacking until their fingers are covered with enough sauce to ensure easy snapping.