What’s Happening at the Festival?



The Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival in downtown West Plains, Mo., will celebrate its 26th year June 5, 2021. The annual event in downtown West Plains, Mo., celebrates Ozarks’ music and culture. Festival hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Admission to all festival events is free.

For more than 25 years, friends and neighbors have volunteered to bring a celebration to West Plains – a celebration of the distinctive music and folkways of the region. This year’s event is especially meaningful following a year of canceled events and activities, and points to a brighter future.

Keeping public safety in mind, most of the Festival activities are held outside this year. Those inside the Civic Center include the Jig Dance Competition in the Exhibit Hall and musical workshops in the Dogwood Rooms, where there’s lots of space.

Music on the outside main stage begins at noon and runs through at least 9 p.m. The lineup this year promises great performances all day by groups dedicated to their craft. Artist information is available on the website 2021 PERformers | Old Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival

Workshops begin at noon in the Dogwood Rooms and continue through 5 p.m.  Fiddle, banjo, mandolin and dulcimer are among the offerings this year. 2021 Festival workshops | Old Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival

Artisans and demonstrators will be located on the West Civic Center lawn in our Artisan Village. Flintknappers, basket making, spinning and weaving, gourd art, cross stitch portraits, Native American beadwork, and even a rendezvous mercantile are featured this year.

The Mule Jump Competition will take place on the corner of East Main and Curry Sts., with a demonstration planned for 3 p.m. and the competition at 7 p.m. Three categories (sizes) of mules will compete for over $600 in cash prizes. The South Central Missouri Kennel Club will conduct a demonstration of skills at 1 p.m. in the same location. Ample seating is available.

The National Bob Holt Jig Dance Competition will be held in the Exhibit Hall at 2 p.m., with registration open at 1:30 p.m. There are four age categories, and each dancer competes to the same tune played by live musicians. Come try out your fancy steps. $400 in prize money, plus gift certificates, will be awarded. Come watch this unique dance style. Seating is available.

The Cooking Stage will be located under the Brush Arbor in the Civic Center circle drive. Opening at 10:30 a.m. and continuing through the preparation of chicken and noodles in a dutch oven, the day is filled with interesting dishes and discussions. Included is “1918 Flu Pandemic – what were American easing?” Pie competition entries are due in the Redbud Room between 10:30 – 11:00 a.m. Results of the judging will be announced at 12:30 at the Cooking Stage, followed by samples!

Bucket Brigade teams will form and compete at noon, 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. near the Children’s Activities location on the East lawn. Look for the fire house and line up your teams! Children’s Activities, sponsored by Ozark Action’s Head Start, will be 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

More than sixty-five booths promise a wide assortment of products, information on local organizations, and demonstrations of traditional arts; and include twelve food concessions offering everything from shave ice to beans and cornbread. Organizers are grateful for their participation, and thankful that they can provide a venue. This year has been especially hard for fundraising – whether non-profit groups or those who earn their primary living through festival-type events.

Fiddlin’ spots are available in three locations toward the western side of the campus, to avoid conflict with the music on stage. Look for the canopies with chairs and strawbales.

The Festival campus runs from St. Louis and East Main throughout the civic center grounds, and includes a block of Curry Street for the mule jump trailers. St. Louis and all other surrounding streets will remain open. There is ample parking in the City lots, and golf carts will be working the parking lots to transport those who might need assistance. Disabled parking is available as marked in the Civic Center west and north lots.

Many thanks to the West Plains Daily Quill for preparing a special Festival Tab each year. Copies were distributed to subscribers with the May 29 issue, and additional copies are available to purchase with that day’s newspaper. More details and photos of artists and events are always included in that Tab.

The Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival is the signature event for West Plains.  The 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.

               2021 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/Old.Time.Music.Festival