WEST PLAINS, Mo. – The 2023 Old-Time Music, Ozarks Heritage Festival in downtown West Plains, Mo., will be held Friday and Saturday, June 2 and 3, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. The annual two-day event in downtown West Plains celebrates Ozarks music and culture.
Steering Committee efforts this year are aided by increased funding through a special grant funded by the Missouri Arts Council, Missouri Humanities, and the Missouri Department of Tourism. The Festival has been fortunate to receive this funding as a part of a ten-member cohort of festivals around the state of Missouri, increasing the programming on humanities – the why of traditions through more interpretative presentations. The event will receive additional state-wide promotion as well, which organizers anticipate will increase attendance at all activities of the Festival, and greatly benefit the economic impact to the area.
This year’s Festival footprint will be expanded, encompassing vendors and activities from the east lawn of the Civic Center, down Trish Knight Blvd., past events on Washington Avenue, and up to the Commons on the Missouri State University-West Plains campus at Haas-Darr Hall.
The east lawn of the Civic Center will become an encampment, featuring living history from four eras – Native American, Colonial, Mountain Men (Rendezvous), and the Civil War era.
Workshops and demonstrations on musical and traditional arts will continue to be presented at the Civic Center, and a Quilt Walk is planned throughout the downtown area. Digital maps for the Quilt Walk and West Plains Mural locations will be available.
Some of the new programming will include the Yellow House, where storytelling will be featured in addition to an art exhibit. The Avenue Theatre is planning a full slate of productions – live theater, showings of the West Plains Story Tour, silent films and more. Downtown Revitalization will program activities on Washington Avenue from Dixon Street to Broadway. And Trish Knight Street will be filled with vendors of all types.
Docents will be present at several downtown locations who will present the history of the buildings, and plans are underway for walking tours of locations featured in the Ozarks Deep: West Plains Story Tour around the square and down Washington Ave.
On the Missouri State University-West Plains campus, the Garnett Library will host Ozarks authors, sessions on archival methods for families and organizations, and will house a portion of the Broadfoot Collection on loan from the Harlin Museum. Jig dancing workshops and Friday night’s square dancing will take place in and around the Student Rec Center, along with children’s activities and the Bucket Brigade. An outside stage will be placed on the corner of Garfield and Trish Knight for additional music throughout the day.
The Harlin Museum will feature the Broadfoot Collection exhibit, along with quilts and other area artifacts from the post-civil war era, in addition to hosting speakers on Ozarks traditions.
Because of the increased size of the footprint, additional carts will be provided so that attendees can easily move from one location to another.
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. Admission to all festival events is free.
2023 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 is provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency. Additional support has been provided by Missouri Humanities and Missouri Department of Tourism.