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Festival activities include cooking stage anniversary, kids fest, turkey-calling and dutch oven competitions

The Old-Time Music, Ozarks Heritage Festival will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the “What’s Cookin’” stage, an Old-Time Kids Fest on Court Square, a return of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s (NWTF) sanctioned turkey calling competition and the third annual Dutch Oven cooking competition during the free, two-day event June 20 and 21 in historic downtown West Plains, Mo.

JUDY HARDEN, left, host of the “What’s Cookin’” Stage at the Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival shares a laugh with her granddaughter, Anna Grant, center, and her friend, Lauren Enoch, both of West Plains, while making pies at the 2013 festival.  This will be the 10th year the cooking stage has been part of the annual event, which celebrates the unique culture of the Ozarks.  This year’s festival is set for June 20-21 in downtown West Plains, Mo.  (Photo Courtesy of the West Plains Daily Quill)

JUDY HARDEN, left, host of the “What’s Cookin’” Stage at the Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival shares a laugh with her granddaughter, Anna Grant, center, and her friend, Lauren Enoch, both of West Plains, while making pies at the 2013 festival. This will be the 10th year the cooking stage has been part of the annual event, which celebrates the unique culture of the Ozarks. This year’s festival is set for June 20-21 in downtown West Plains, Mo. (Photo Courtesy of the West Plains Daily Quill)

“WHAT’S COOKIN’” STAGE

A highlight of the festival for the past 10 years has been the “What’s Cookin’” Stage hosted by Judy Harden, who shares her love of old-time recipes with festival goers.  The theme of this year’s stage is “Looking Back,” and Harden and her schedule of cooks invite festival attendees to stop by the stage for a nostalgic look back to former presentations and the introduction of some new “old” recipes.

“In the past 10 years, we have endured heat, rain, wind, location changes, more heat, rain and wind, sunny skies, cloudy skies and several technical difficulties; however, we have prevailed and succeeded in accomplishing our goal of encouraging people to find a family recipe and use it,” Harden said.  “Find your mother, brother, aunt or grandson and recreate that lost art of spending time together in the kitchen!”

The success of the cooking stage, which has grown each year, can be attributed to the Ozark heritage of handing down family favorite recipes, she explained.  Since a lot of recipes and cooking techniques are passed down by word of mouth, Harden encourages her cooks to share their stories, as well as the “how to” demonstration of preparing them.  Area residents who would like to share a family favorite recipe should call Harden at 417-256-7988.

“This year, we will try to include all your favorites, such as our local squirrel pot pie, chicken and dumplings, rhubarb pie, persimmon pudding and hog’s head mincemeat,” Harden said.  “Along with all these, we will make homemade bread of all kinds – and yes, donuts will happen on Saturday morning!”

Free samples of the food, as always, will be available, she added.  “Come to the festival, attend the cooking stage, and leave feeling like you have visited days gone by,” she said.

OLD-TIME KIDS FEST

Kids of all ages are invited to visit the Old-Time Kids Fest from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day at historic Court Square.  This new addition to the festival will feature children’s games, such as musical chairs, cake walks, turtle races, frog jumping, stick horse races, a stage for plays, a water bucket brigade, roping, square dance lessons and more, according to officials with West Plains Downtown Revitalization Inc. (WPDR), which is hosting the Kids Fest.

Local historian Toney Aid will describe the history of the square, including the Dance Hall Explosion, Civil War battles and the burning of the courthouse, and Howell County Rural Fire Department crews will demonstrate how fires would have been fought at the time of the courthouse burning, organizers said.

Children under age 12 will receive a special passport to track their participation in the various activities and games.  Those who fill their passports will be entered into a special giveaway, organizers said.

“The Old-Time Kids Fest will provide an opportunity for children to learn about and enjoy old-time games and activities while their parents and grandparents reminisce about their experiences playing these same games,” organizers said.  “Ultimately, children and adults alike will create new memories of their time at the festival.”

Organizers said they are seeking demonstrators for quilting, crocheting, spinning and whittling activities, as well as volunteers and game sponsors.  Those who would like to help, contact Anita Parrett-King at 417-293-4438 or Lee King at 417-204-2422.

WPDR, formerly Downtown West Plains Inc., is focused on the historic downtown district and promotes businesses, activities and building ownership in the downtown area.  WPDR officials encourage everyone to visit downtown stores and businesses.

TURKEY CALLING COMPETITION

Trillium Trust, in partnership with local NWTF chapter The Rocky Top Limbhangers, will host the second annual Ozarks Wild Turkey Calling Competition at 10 a.m. June 21 in the West Plains Civic Center theater.  Prizes will be awarded in three divisions – open, friction and youth.  The winners of this NWTF-sanctioned event will be eligible to compete in the national competition later this year in Nashville, Tenn.

Turkey calling, a skill successful turkey hunters work hard to master, is a piece of the cultural heritage of the Ozarks that is passed down from generation to generation, organizers said.  “Even if you’re not a caller yourself, we encourage you to join us to hear some of the best talent in the region show off their impressive calling abilities,” organizers said.  “Bring kids who love hunting and kids who have never had the chance to go out and hear a wild turkey.  Enjoy short videos from the Grand National Competition, turkey callers in the woods, and a short presentation on turkeys in the Ozarks.”

Registration for the contest will begin at 8 a.m. June 21 in the civic center and close at 9:30 a.m. when numbers will be drawn to determine the order of callers.  The contest will begin at 10 a.m. and continue until all participants have completed the required number of calls.  Trophies will be handed out to the top three finishers in each division, and cash prizes awarded to the top two.  A special prize will be given to the winner of the youth division, organizers said.

For more information about the contest and how to participate, call Jim McFarland jmcfarland@trilliumtrust.org or 417-274-3176.

DUTCH OVEN COOKING CONTEST

The art of Dutch oven cooking again will be a featured event at the festival.  Seasoned masters of the technique will be asked to try their hand at main dishes and/or desserts made from scratch.  No entry fee is required.

The contest, sponsored by the Ozark Mountain Long Rifle Club, will take place June 21 in the grassy area on East Main Street near the Grisham Properties office.  Participants will have until 2 p.m. to submit their entry forms, and judging will begin at 4:30 p.m.  Winners will be announced at 5:30 p.m. at the “What’s Cookin’” Stage.  Prizes, provided by Howell County Outpost, will be awarded to first, second and third place entries.  Audience members can sample the dishes following the awards ceremony.

Dutch ovens have been used more than 300 years and became the cooking tool of choice for those traveling west because of their versatility.  In the Ozarks, the Dutch oven became a mark of civilized living and lifted the chore of providing meals for a family from drudgery to art.

For more information about this event, including entry information, contact Harry McKee at 417-372-3275 or e-mail the West Plains Council on the Arts at info@westplainsarts.org.  An entry form and flyer copies can be downloaded from the festival website, http://www.oldtimemusic.org.

The Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival, in its 20th year, is the signature event for West Plains.  The two-day festival seeks to celebrate, preserve, pass on and nurture an appreciation of the old-time music and folk life traditions distinctive to the Ozark Highlands.

Festival partners include the West Plains Council on the Arts, the City of West Plains, the Ozark Heritage Welcome Center, West Plains Civic Center and Missouri State University-West Plains.  Partial funding for this event was provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

For more information on the festival e-mail info@westplainsarts.org, visit the website at http://www.oldtimemusic.org, or “like” the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Old-Time-Music-Ozark-Heritage-Festival/223205480264.