Football, history and art highlight St. Joseph day trip

St. Joseph
Tyler Bray (now with the Chicago Bears) takes a snap from the center during a passing drill at Kansas City Chiefs’ camp in St. Joseph.

The Kansas City Chiefs call St. Joseph home for a few weeks every summer as they prepare for the upcoming National Football League season. St. Joe has been the host site for the summer camp for more than five years.

I’m not a Chiefs fan. I pay attention to how they do because I’m a football fan. But, KC’s camp is about a two-hour drive from Omaha, while my Minnesota Vikings train six hours away in the Twin Cities. I’ve wanted to check out the team’s practices, so Lisa and I planned a day trip to St. Joe.

I was immediately impressed with the camp’s set-up – the Chiefs’ staff was well-prepared for the estimated 5,000 fans visiting. Cheerleaders posed for pictures with fans and sold their calendar. They sold a lot. The team’s gear shop was open and busy.

The actual practice field on the campus of Missouri Western State University was ringed with fans standing as close to the players as they could. Others enjoyed watching the action from the stands. Lisa and I roamed near the field, looking for opportunities to get an angle for photos.

Walking up to the practice field, we watched some defensive linemen work out against the blocking sled. That brought back memories of when I played football for a couple of years as a kid. I played both sides of the line.

St. Joseph
A defensive lineman practices against a blocking sled.

After watching Alex Smith (who was traded to Washington prior to the 2018 season) take his turn throwing the ball to receivers such as Jeremy Macklin or rookie Tyreek Hill from West Alabama (yes, there is a school called West Alabama), I was interested in checking out his back-ups – newly acquired Nick Foles (now a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Philadelphia Eagles) and fourth-year player Tyler Bray.

St. Joseph
New back-up quarterback Nick Foles releases the ball with accuracy during the passing drills.

I like Kansas City Coach Andy Reid. I liked him when he coached the Philadelphia Eagles, so I want the Chiefs to do well under his leadership. They’ve had two winning seasons in his first two years, including a playoff berth last season. I happened to time a photo right and got two birds with one stone – Coach Reid and Zach Sterup, who played for Nebraska. Sterup, a rookie free agent, was recently promoted to the second unit. The kid has an excellent chance of playing when the regular season rolls around next month.

St. Joseph
Coach Andy Reid walks back to watch his linemen block during practice. Former Nebraska player Zach Sterup is No. 74.

The Chiefs will continue to practice in St. Joseph until Aug. 14. The team “breaks” camp prior to its second preseason game. The Chiefs host the Houston Texans Thursday, Aug. 9, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. The team will continue its practices in Kansas City after the second game.

St. Joe honors native son Walter Cronkite

Since we were on the Missouri Western State campus, we thought we’d stop by the Walter Cronkite Memorial and see what was new there. Boy, were we surprised. The memorial continues to add exhibits honoring the St. Joe native and broadcast news great. We last visited two years ago.

St. Joseph
Walter Cronkite’s bust is new since our last visit two years ago.

The memorial’s coolest additions were a bronze bust of Cronkite on the first floor and a replica of the CBS Evening News set where he earned the reputation as the “most trusted man in America.”

St. Joseph
Replica of Cronkite’s news set during his decades as anchor of the “CBS Evening News.”

Public art tour

St. Joe leaders are putting a lot of effort to help rejuvenate the downtown area. One way they’re doing this by encouraging people to check out the public art. Permanent art pieces include a statue of jazz great Coleman Hawkins.

St. Joseph
Statue of Coleman Hawkins in St. Joe’s downtown park.

The city’s arts foundation promotes an annual sculpture walk. This year, 17 sculptures – they change annually – have been located in a 15-square block area. We found all 17!

St. Joseph
One of the 17 sculptures with the Missouri Theatre in the background.

The sculptures are unique. They range from a silhouette of a dancer in front of the arts foundation to two whacky football players to “Hogzilla,” a combination of a hog and alligator.

St. Joseph
“Hogzilla” was one of my favorite sculptures.


We love murals and St. Joseph doesn’t disappoint. They’ve added several over the past couple years. One set of murals highlight St. Joseph’s downtown architecture. Another recognizes the area’s Native American history.

St. Joseph
Downtown buildings feature murals highlighting St. Joe’s history.

A mural highlights four major events in St. Joseph’s history. The first recognizes Abraham Lincoln’s 1859 visit – a year before he was elected president – to discuss creating a transcontinental railroad. He would successfully pursue the venture during his presidency.

The second event includes the Patee House Hotel being turned into the Union Army’s headquarters during the Civil War. The Army was stationed in St. Joseph to counter Confederate flare-ups and civilian uprisings in support of the Confederates.

The third scene highlights Fort Smith. The Union base stood high above the area, offering excellent views of the Missouri River and the nearby terrain.

St. Joseph
This mural highlights St. Joseph during its Civil War days.

The fourth event covers the Platte River train wreck of 1861. Confederate guerrillas set fire to a bridge as the train approached St. Joseph. Several rail cars derailed as the train crossed the burning structure. About 20 people died and 80 were injured. It was considered one of the first atrocities to occur during the Civil War.

Neapolitan pizza

We finished our day trip with a delicious lunch at Il Lazzarone. The Neapolitan Pizza restaurant became one of our favorite places to eat during a visit in 2014. We highly recommend the eatery.

St. Joseph
Il Lazzarone is home to delicious Neapolitan pizza.

As we wrapped up our drive to St. Joe, Lisa and I agreed we had a wonderful time. St. Joseph is one of our favorite cities and we truly enjoy each of our visits. We highly recommend visiting St. Joseph.

For more information on St. Joe and its attractions, please visit