Many of the material arts and crafts originated for entirely utilitarian reasons and were essential for meeting the basic needs of Ozarks residents in past generations. As a result of changes in the region’s economy, especially the increased availability of manufactured goods since the mid-twentieth century, such arts and crafts are no longer practical necessities, but many talented artisans and craftspeople in the Ozarks continue to practice them both as outlets for their creativity and as means of celebrating the region’s rich cultural heritage.
In many cases, these crafts and art forms have incorporated more aesthetic elements as they have evolved over time, and artistry now takes precedence over functionality in the work of many of their practitioners, though this is certainly not always the case.
Some of the artisans and craftspeople who participate in the Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival practice their arts and crafts as living traditions, and their work reflects ongoing developments within those traditions, including, in some cases, their own innovations. Other participants in the festival are historical re-enactors who strive to practice their arts and crafts as they were practiced generations ago. Some have products available for purchase; all of them encourage festival goers to observe their work and learn about it.