2013 Exhibits/Activities

New events to this year’s Festival:



Turkey calling contest added to Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival

  In the NWTF photo at right, a hunter shows his young protégé

how to use a box call.  (Photo provided via the NWTF website)


One of the skills successful turkey hunters in the Ozarks work hard to master will take a featured position at the 19th annual Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival, set for June 14 and 15, in downtown West Plains, Mo.

The first ever Ozarks Wild Turkey Calling Competition will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 15, in the West Plains Civic Center theater, 110 St. Louis St.  The event has been officially sanctioned by the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and is being sponsored by the NWTF’s Carmen Springs Long Beards chapter in Willow Springs, Howell County Outpost and Ozark Outfitters.


“It wasn’t that long ago that wild turkeys couldn’t be found in Missouri,” said festival committee member Kathleen Morrissey.  “Today, however, the Missouri Department of Conservation claims that 300,000 wild turkeys call our state their home.  The population has improved so dramatically that hunters harvested more than 44,000 birds in 2012.


“The NWTF has invested more than $421 million to conserve over 17 million acres of habitat,” she continued.  “Not only do wild turkeys benefit from this investment, other upland wildlife, including quail, deer, grouse and songbirds, do as well.  We are pleased to partner with the Carmen Springs Long Beards chapter of NWTF to host this year’s Ozarks Wild Turkey Calling Competition.”


The competition will offer three categories – friction, open and youth – with first, second and third place prizes awarded in each.  Cash prizes and sponsor products will be awarded in the friction and open categories, and winners in the youth category will receive plaques.  First place winners of the friction and open categories will be eligible to compete in the NWTF’s National Wild Turkey Calling Competition in February 2014 in Nashville, Tenn.

Click here for a flyer with all the details.

The registration fee is $20 for the friction and open categories; there will be no fee for youth.  Participants must be an NWTF member.  Those who aren’t members can join the NWTF that day by paying the membership fee on site.  For more information, contact Terry Newton, 417-469-2881, or Morrissey, 417-293-7751.






Pioneer Saddle Club Drill Team, Sedalia, MO 1956







Another addition to this year’s festival, which celebrates the distinctive culture of the Ozarks Highlands, is the Pioneer Saddle Club’s Missouri Fox Trotters exhibit.  Club members will offer a skills demonstration of Missouri Fox Trotter horses at 7 p.m. each day at the corner of East Main and Curry Streets where the annual mule jumping competition is held.  The group also will sponsor a photo exhibit depicting the history of this Missouri-bred equine at the Gallery on the Mezzanine inside the civic center throughout the festival.


Club members Ken Kutter and Gale Thompson said the Missouri Fox Trotter was born out of the need by Ozarks pioneers for a sure-footed, easy-traveling horse.  These settlers brought their best saddle stock, primarily Arabians, Morgans and plantation horses, with them from the hills and mountains of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia when they migrated to the area and later bred them with American Saddlebred, Tennessee Walkers and Standard Breeding stock to create the Missouri Fox Trotter we see today.


A staple of transportation in the region for decades, the use of the Missouri Fox Trotter, especially by such residents as country doctors, sheriffs, assessors and stock raisers, began to decline quickly after World War II.  In an effort to preserve the breed, a group of interested horse breeders established an organization in 1948 to maintain an accurate stud book.  Because of interest and demand, the organization, which featured a number of Howell County families, reincorporated 10 years later as a stock company, and in 1955, they joined with others to charter the Pioneer Saddle Club, which hosted the 1960 Show and Celebration at the Howell County Fairgrounds in West Plains, they said.


Since that time, the breed has grown in popularity.  In 2002, the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse was named the official horse of the State of Missouri, and last year, Missouri Highway 5 in Douglas County was named Missouri Fox Trotting Highway because it leads to the headquarters of the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association in Ava, which now hosts the world championship classes each September at the annual Show and Celebration, Kutter said.

See the Pioneer Saddle Club Facebook page for more information about the organization.






Rolling Anarchy. Mobile Chaos. It’s the First (and possibly only) Old Time Music Festival Interpretive Bike Ride. Friday and Saturday, June 14 and 15, 2013.

The Ozarks were settled by Old Stock Americans (primarily the Scotch-Irish) who immigrated to America to get away from rules, regulations, and oppression. It is in the Spirit of these people that we offer the very first Old Time Music Festival Interpretative Bike Ride. The cost for this event will satisfy any Scotsman as it is free. Registration & a signed waiver are required. Registration forms will be available at the Trillium Trust booth inside the Civic Center Friday after noon, or Saturday beginning at 7 a.m..    Anyone who plans to ride Friday should email TOTMFBikeRide@GMail.com to confirm participation.  Saturday’s ride will begin at maybe 7 AM, or whenever you decide to show up.

This is a non supported event that attempts to combine place based experiences with a leisurely ride thru the Ozark Hills. The ride starts at the West Plains Civic Center at 7 AM, and ends whenever you decide you are done. The ride utilizes technology to deliver each rider as much (or as little) information as the rider wants. The ride is about 25 miles and has maybe 500 feet of climb.

Here is how it works. A general route has been laid out. At selected locations QR codes are posted in an environmentally responsible manner. Scan the QR code with your smart phone, and it will pull up a brief set of facts and history about that location. Want to know more about a topic? Additional links (to existing material) are provided. If you don’t have any interest -climb back on your bike and ride on.

Stops include the destruction of the local court house (three times), the notorious Billy Monks (he invaded Arkansas a couple years after the Civil War & drove out the Ku Klux Klan), a review of how the original settlers influence local politics today (the Scotch-Irish distaste for authority lives on), a visit to a couple of Ghost towns (a discussion of the thousands of acres of Fruit Orchards 100 years ago, African-American immigration, a fraudulent oil well, a bit of Howell County geology, and the faded glory of Pomona). The ride turns around at Pomona (information about the timber boom & Old Horton located to the west), stops at the Sadie Brown Cemetery, looks west to Siloam Springs (shattered dreams & outright crimes- healing springs, a gold rush, land fraud, and the Pinebrook Inn) and returns to West Plains. In West Plains we will visit the scene of the Dance Hall Explosion (1928), see the lot where Sheriff Kelley was gunned down by the Barker-Karpis gang (1931), and the site of the livery stable once owned by Ferd Owen’s family (the king of Missouri Mules) if we can find it (if not you’ll see a random location and we’ll shade the truth a bit).

The Ozark’s first settlers moved here to get away from any kind of authority- we don’t question authority- we deny it even exists.   The original settlers were self sufficient & independent- we made our own whiskey, delivered our own babies, and still fix our own pickups. Therefore, on this ride you are on your own. Don’t want to start at 7 am? Fine, you can leave whenever if you can read a map or follow paint marks on the road. Want to ride it backwards? Sure, go for it. Ride half of it twice? Do it if it makes you happy. Have a flat? Be ready to flip your bike and put in a tube. Thirsty? Better bring plenty of water.

We realize that this ride isn’t for everyone (just like the Ozarks). You’ll be riding on the shoulder of a 4 lane highway (watch out for the non bike friendly drainage inlets), there are hills, you’ll need to be comfortable with a smart phone and code scanners, you’ll need to carry enough water and snacks for the trip, there are not any porta-potties, no sag wagon, and you will be exposed to the entire spectrum of stupidity that comes with riding a bike in traffic. This ride offers freedom, the ability to ride at your own chosen speed, and the opportunity to experience never before attempted melding of technology & heritage.

If there is sufficient interest an expanded ride of about 50 miles that will include Hutton Valley, the original site of Willow Springs, and Burnham will be offered. This is a tough ride (the first three hills coming up out of Willow Springs will drop you out of the big ring and make you wish for a compact), but it is rideable if you have 120 ounces plus of hydration capacity on your bike, monster legs, a few snacks, and a willingness to pee in culverts under the highway. Bad judgment is definitely a plus on this ride. This isn’t for novices. A couple of pit bulls and/or stock dogs occasionally are encountered on this route. You’ll also want a spare battery for your smart phone. E-mail the contact below if you have interest in the extended ride.

High Wheel Bicycle Club

The ride (dis) organizer can be contacted via e-mail at TOTMFBikeRide@GMail.com

.  A map and details of the ride can be found at


All participants must sign a liability waiver, which can be downloaded here.















Memories of grandma’s kitchen theme of What’s Cookin’ Stage at Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival


Remember waking up at your grandma’s or favorite aunt’s house to the smell of coffee perking in the pot or bacon sizzling in the skillett?  Those memories and more will be recreated at the ninth annual What’s Cookin’ Stage at the 19th annual Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival, set for June 14 and 15 in and around the West Plains Civic Center, 110 St. Louis St., in downtown West Plains, Mo.

“Most of us have fond memories of waking up at grandma’s or our favorite aunt’s house – and not just waking up, but waking up hungry,” said Judy Harden, organizer of the stage, which is being sponsored by Aid’s Downtown Antique Mall in West Plains.    “This year, we’re going to recreate those memories and share stories about the food we will cook and sample during each presentation.”

Friday’s schedule will feature “Young Hands in the Kitchen,” she said, adding area youth and children will prepare main dishes and desserts, including cookies, during various segments throughout the day.  Saturday’s theme will be one-pot meals, including the festival’s signature dish – squirrel pot pie – at noon.  As part of the prep for this dish, Harden said she is in contact with one of the squirrel skinners from the 2012 What’s Cookin’ Stage for an encore presentation.

“As coordinator of the cooking stage, I confirmed the squirrel segment early in the year after a realtor called me at home.  She explained that she had out-of-town prospective buyers who wanted to schedule their viewing of property to coincide with the festival, particularly squirrel pot pie and squirrel skinning,” Harden said.

Work on the stage’s schedule continues, but visitors can expect to see annual favorites, such as homemade bread, donuts, rolls and pies, as well as the surprise dish of the year, Harden promised.  “I will be researching recipes for beaver, courtesy of area resident Kevin Smith and acquired by festival committee member Kathleen Morrissey,” Harden said.  “We will try to include them in the preparation and presentation of the dish.  This is something new for me and should be lots of fun.”

Harden said anyone who has a recipe he or she would like prepared or to present at this year’s stage should contact her at 417-256-7988.







2nd Annual Dutch oven cooking competition

For the second year in a row, the art of Dutch oven cooking will be a featured event at the 19th annual Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival, set for June 14 and 15 in and around the West Plains Civic Center, 110 St. Louis St., in downtown West Plains, Mo.

Seasoned masters of Ozarks Dutch Oven cookery will be asked to try their hand at main dishes and/or desserts made from scratch in this annual event, organizers said.  There will be no entry fee for participants, they added.

The competition, sponsored by the Ozark Mountain Long Rifle Club, will take place Friday, June 14, in and around the club’s living history area near the front of the civic enter.  Participants have until 2 p.m. to enter; judging will begin at 4:30 p.m.  Winners will be announced about 5:30 p.m. that day at the What’s Cookin’ stage.  Prizes, provided by Howell County Outpost, will be awarded to first-, second- and third-place finishers, organizers said.  Audience members are encouraged to sample the chefs’ results following the awards ceremony.


The term Dutch oven generally refers to a cast iron pot or kettle with a flat bottom and three legs that hold the oven above a fire’s hot coals.  The kettle also features flat sides and a flat, flanged lid to hold the hot coals placed on top, organizers explained.


The versatile, portable cooking tool has been used for more than 300 years, and became the cooking tool of choice in places as far removed as the American West and the South African coast, organizers pointed out.  George Washington’s mother bequeathed several of them among her iron kitchen furniture to her heirs.  Native Americans also were captivated by the ability of the pot to cook food literally inside the fire, organizers said.


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.  Those arts will be challenged this year for contest entrants, who will be asked to bring their own cookware and ingredients, organizers said.

Area residents curious about Dutch oven cooking are encouraged to arrive early and claim their seat.

For more information about the 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 may be downloaded.  Click here.


Quilt Show

Some of the most beautiful and practical items of Ozark life will once again be on display during the 19th annual Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival June 14 and 15 in downtown West Plains, Mo.

The Southern Belle Grandmothers Club of West Plains will host its ninth annual quilt show in conjunction with the festival, and organizers encourage area residents and quilt enthusiasts to bring their favorite quilts to display.  The show will take place in the Magnolia Room of the West Plains Civic Center, 110 St. Louis St., one of the venues for the two-day festival.  Admission to all festival events is free.

The quilt show was first held in 2005 in the historic Butler Building on Washington Avenue and joined the festival in 2006 as an annual featured exhibit.  It showcases all types of quilts, individually made, group quilted, hand-pieced, hand-quilted, machine-pieced or quilted, or any combination.  Those visiting the show are given stickers to vote for their selection for the People’s Choice Award announced at the end of the exhibit.

Those wishing to display a quilt should drop it off during set-up the evening of June 13 or early morning June 14.  All participants are asked to pin a note to their quilts that tells the story of its maker, use or other history of the piece.  Every quilt has a story, and sharing that is part of the festival mission, organizers said.

Southern Belle Grandmothers Club Chapter No. 1011 is a member of the National Federation of Grandmothers Clubs of America, a non-profit organization that supports charitable projects relating to cures for children’s cancer.  The local chapter supports Ronald McDonald Houses of Missouri and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., as well as addresses local needs of children’s groups.

Club members meet at 1 p.m. the fourth Thursday of the month for a dutch treat luncheon meeting at Ryan’s in West Plains.  Guests are always welcome.

As part of their fundraising efforts, club members offer a handmade quilt each year.  This year’s “Dresden Medallion” quilt was pieced by Jean Asberry and machine quilted by Sheila Neisingh.  It will be exhibited at the festival and will be given away in October.  Registration information for the giveaway will be available at the festival, organizers said.

Help setting up the exhibit is always appreciated.  Those wishing to lend a hand should contact Cheryl Kuschel at 417-257-1067.

The Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival 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.  Admission is free.

THIS “DRESDEN MEDALLION” QUILT will be on display at the Southern Belle Grandmothers Club’s ninth annual quilt show during the 19th annual Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival  June 14 and 15 in downtown West Plains, Mo.  The quilt is being given away to raise funds for the club’s charitable causes, including Ronald McDonald Houses of Missouri and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.  Information about the giveaway will be available at the quilt show.  With the quilt are club members Jean Asberry, who pieced the quilt; Cheryl Kuschel; Cindy McLean; and Sheila Neisingh, who machine quilted the piece.  (Photo provided)


6th annual mule jump competition

The happening place to be in West Plains on Saturday, June 15, will be the sixth annual mule jumping competition at the 19th annual Old-Time Music, Ozarks Heritage Festival in downtown West Plains, Mo.

Sponsored by Hirsch Feed & Farm Supply, the competition will take place at 3 p.m. in the parking lot near the West Plains Senior Center at the corner of East Main and South Curry streets.  Admission to it, as well as all festival activities, is free.

A demonstration of mule jumping will precede the competition at 11 a.m. at the same location.  Attendees will be welcome to ask questions of the demonstrators (and, for that matter, the mules, though there’s no guarantee that the mules will answer).

Mule jumping, that most Missourian of Missouri folk arts, seems to have developed when raccoon hunters began training mules to jump over fences so that they did not have to interrupt the hunt to locate a gate.  It became a competitive event unto itself, and mule jumping contests began to take place at county fairs and town picnics throughout much of the rural Southeast and Midwest, especially Missouri.

“Based on the research I’ve done, it appears that there are more mule jumps annually in Missouri than in any other state,” festival committee member Matt Meacham said.  “It seems safe to say that the Show-Me State is the mule-jumpingest state in the country.”

All trainers of jumping mules are invited to participate in the festival’s mule jump competition.  Prizes of $100 (first place), $75 (second place), and $50 (third place) will be awarded in each of two classes based on the mules height: up to 52 inches, and taller than 52 inches.  Standard Missouri rules will apply.  Water and ample space for trailers will be available.  Richie Dement of Centerville will coordinate the event again this year.

Pre-registration is recommended but not required.  Contestants who wish to pre-register may contact Matt Meacham at 417-372-3177 or matthewmeacham@missouristate.edu.  All participants are asked to check in on-site by 2:30 p.m. Saturday, June 15.  Those who have questions about specific policies and procedures may contact Dement at 573-648-2524.

The 2011 mule jump became the subject of an article in the Wall Street Journal, Meacham noted.  “Although we can’t guarantee that competitors will receive international media coverage again this year, we can guarantee that they’ll have the attention of an enthusiastic, supportive audience and the appreciation of the organizers of the Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival,” he added.

Wall Street Journal Mule Jump Video 2011 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304584004576417491926661206.html?mod=WSJ_LifeStyle_Lifestyle_6#articleTabs%3Dvideo

Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival to feature Fiddlers’ Frolic


Fiddlers, other instrumentalists and those who like to listen to good, toe-tapping fiddle music are invited to the Fiddlers’ Frolic at the 19th annual Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival June 14 and 15 in downtown West Plains, Mo.   The music begins at 7 p.m. Friday, June 14, in the West Plains Civic Center theater at 110 St. Louis St.  Admission to all festival events is free.

An annual component of the festival, the Fidders’ Frolic gives participating fiddlers an opportunity to select and lead tunes in an open jam session.  It focuses principally on traditional fiddling found in this region, but “traditional” is defined broadly and flexibly, coordinator Matt Meacham said, and fiddlers of all backgrounds, stylistic orientations and skill levels are welcome to participate.

“It’s always enjoyable and really fascinating to hear the participating fiddlers exchange tunes and compare notes, in multiple senses of the word,” Meacham said.  “We expect that, as usual, there will be at least a few folks on hand who are very knowledgeable about the history of fiddling in this part of the country and can provide interesting commentary on many of the tunes that will be played.”

One of the goals of the Fiddlers’ Frolic is to help conserve and perpetuate old-time tunes and techniques, Meacham said.  “As a result, it tends to emphasize traditional fiddling, but we know that traditions are always evolving and growing, and we certainly don’t want to define ‘tradition’ in an artificially rigid way, so we strongly encourage fiddlers of all kinds to join in.  And, of course, we’ll need banjoists, guitarists and other instrumentalists to provide accompaniment.  Everyone’s welcome,” he said.

For more information about The Fiddlers’ Frolic, contact Meacham at 417-372-3177 or matthewmeacham@missouristate.edu, or the West Plains Council on the Arts at info@westplainsarts.org.


Melodrama once again featured at

Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival


  For the second year in a row, officials with the Avenue Theatre in West Plains will present an old-fashioned melodrama at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 15, at the theater, 307 Washington Ave., in conjunction with the 19th annual Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival in downtown West Plains, Mo.

The festival itself, which celebrates Ozark culture, will take place June 14 and 15 in and around the West Plains Civic Center at 110 St. Louis St. and along East Main Street.  Admission to all festival events, including the melodrama, is free.

Theater officials said doors will open at 12:30 p.m. for anyone who would like to arrive early and look around the historic theater, which originally opened in 1950 as a movie house.  It closed in the 1980s and re-opened as a not-for-profit community performing arts center in 1990.

“We are very pleased to once again be performing a good, old-fashioned melodrama in conjunction with the festival,” said Avenue Theatre representative Terry Hampton.  “Just as the festival celebrates our musical heritage, we will be celebrating our theatrical heritage by producing a melodrama, which was the most popular form of theater during the 19th century.”

This year’s production is “Stop That Villain,” written by Tim Kelly, directed by local resident Rita Gordon and featuring a cast of 12 local actors.

The plot revolves around the unscrupulous Rip Roquefort, who makes a bad living cheating at cards.  He lives in the Virginia City Hotel but pays no rent because the landlady, Jenny Flutterpearl, thinks he’s in love with her.  Jenny doesn’t realize that the miserable servant she’s hired to wash and scrub is actually the villain’s wife, Comatose.

Things get even more interesting for Roquefort with the arrival of Auntie Em, her niece Little Jane Dovetonsil and the crafty Judge Lynch.  Seems the villain’s uncle has left him a fortune – IF he marries Little Jane within 24 hours.  Little Jane knows nothing of all this, and if she finds out about the will, the money goes to “The Judge Lynch Foundation for Near-Sighted Albanians.”

Roquefort arranges an “accident” for Comotose (it backfires) and urges a former partner in crime, Bathsheba Pickles, to sidetrack the local deputy, Merton Manly.  Complications build to a hilarious slow-motion finale, organizers promise.





Bob Holt Old-Time Jig Dancing Competition

featured at Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival


It’s time to get out those dancing shoes and get ready for the 12th annual Bob Holt Old-Time Jig Dancing Competition, which is returning as a featured event of the 19th annual Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival in downtown West Plains, Mo.

The festival, which celebrates the unique culture of the Ozarks Highlands, is set for June 14 and 15 in and around the West Plains Civic Center, 110 St. Louis St.  Admission is free.

The Bob Holt Old-Time Jig Dancing Competition will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday, June 15, in the civic center theater.  Festival organizers said the time has been changed to allow participants in the turkey calling competition time to clear the stage.

Jig dancing contestants will compete in four age divisions:  Under age 17, age 18-50, age 51-70, and over age 70.  No entry fee will be charged, and contestants can register to participate by contacting Kathleen Morrissey at the West Plains Council on the Arts, info@westplainsarts.org or 417-256-1813.  Over $500 in prizes will be awarded, organizers said.  Cathy Marriott, Ava, Mo., a master artist with the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program of the Missouri Folks Arts Program, will be the competition’s emcee.

The competition was named in honor of the late Holt, a long-time Ava resident renowned for his old-time fiddle playing for square dancers.  He received a National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1999 for his music and was a master artist with the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program in the Missouri Folk Arts Program.

Within the southern folk tradition, there are several styles of solo, freestyle dances, organizers said.  Flatfooting and buckdancing are two of the most common forms.  In the Ozarks, the term “jig” is frequently used to describe this style of dance.

Although these dances are all loosely related, they also are distinctly different.  The word “jig” dates back at least to 1500 AD and is probably somewhat older in usage.  It describes a solo dance that originated in the British Isles where it consisted of repeated hops on one foot while the free foot pointed patterns in the air – heel and toe, front, side or back.

The Ozark jig draws not only from British tradition, but also from American Indian and African cultures.  It basically consists of movement from the hips down while the upper body is held erect, organizers explained.  Emphasis is on leg rather than body movements, and the steps are individualistic and virtually limitless.  The feet serve as a rhythm instrument, and the sound of the shoes striking the floor beats the time of the music.

Even though a number of jig dancers may take to the floor at the same time, each dancer’s steps are improvised without regard to the movement of the other dancers.  When jig steps are incorporated into square dances, no effort is made to synchronize steps with other dancers in the square, organizers explained.

Another major difference in the British and Ozark versions of the jig is the rhythm of the dance, they added.  In the British Isles, the jig was danced to a lilting 6/8 rhythm.  Ozark dancers prefer extremely fast-paced, driving 2/2 or 2/4 hoedowns.  The Ozark style of jig is a “freestyle” dance form identified with northern Arkansas and southern Missouri.

Each year the Bob Holt Jig Dance Competition is enjoyed by hundreds of spectators and contestants, organizers said.  This year’s event is being sponsored by The Fish Shack in West Plains.

Some of our 2012 contestants and winners:





















Ozarks literature featured at Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival

Local author Anthony Priest will host a booth featuring literature written by Ozarks authors in conjunction with the 19th annual Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival in downtown West Plains, Mo.

The festival, which celebrates Ozark culture, will take place June 14 and 15 in and around the West Plains Civic Center at 110 St. Louis St. and along East Main Street.  Admission to all festival events is free.

Priest, associate professor of English at Missouri State University-West Plains, edited the recently released Yonder Mountain: An Ozarks Anthology, which features pieces by “poets, novelists, naturalists, columnists and historians whose lives have been shaped profoundly by the landscape and culture of the Ozarks.”

Inspired by poet Miller Williams’ Ozark, Ozark: A Hillside Reader, the pieces in Yonder Mountain take note of the region’s unique culture while addressing the changes taking place as it becomes more diverse, Priest said.  “Having achieved recognition through publications, awards and accolades from the literary community and beyond, the writers in Yonder Mountain reflect diversity and change within the Ozarks while remaining rooted in the literary legacy born out of the hills we call home,” he explained in the book’s forward.

The anthology includes pieces by such authors as Donald Harington, Sara Burge, Marcus Cafagna, Art Homer, Pattiann Rogers, Miller Williams, Roy Reed and Daniel Woodrell.

Copies of Yonder Mountain, as well as books by some of the authors, will be available for sale at the booth, which can be found near the festival information booth on East Main Street, and several of the authors will be on hand to sign them, Priest said.

In addition to the booth, Priest and several of the authors will give readings from the various titles offered beginning at 4 p.m. Friday, June 14, in the West Plains Civic Center theater.  Among those joining Priest are Sara Burge, Craig Albin and Phil Howerton.  Albin and Howerton also are members of the Missouri State-West Plains English faculty.

Also available through the University of Arkansas Press http://www.uapress.com/titles/sp13/priest.html





Traditional square dancing has been an integral component of the Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival since the first event in 1995 when the late fiddler Bob Holt and caller Edna Mae Davis, both of Ava, introduced the art form.  Their influence continues to be felt at today’s festival.

Square dancing has been an important vehicle for both artistic expression and social recreation in this region since the arrival of the first white settlers.  It is closely associated with traditions of fiddling and string band music, as well as traditions of solo dancing, such as jig dancing.

Square dancers in the Douglas County, Mo., area, especially Ava, maintain a distinctive tradition of square dance characterized by brisk tempos, the incorporation of solo jig dancing into square dances during transitional segments, and the participation of the callers as dancers.

Traditional square dancing still takes place, at least occasionally, in some locations within the Ozarks.  Additionally, Western square dancing – a pan-regional, popular-culture version of the art form that is related to traditional square dancing but does not have long-established local roots – has become popular among some Ozarks residents in recent decades.

The square dancing featured at the Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival is predominately traditional square dancing.  Dances take place in the West Plains Civic Center exhibit hall from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday during the festival.  Square dancers from Douglas County and the Potosi, Mo., areas frequently participate in the dancing in leadership roles, but everyone is welcome.

Experienced string band musicians from south-central and southwest Missouri who are thoroughly familiar with regional square dance traditions, led by guitarist Alvie Dooms of Ava and fiddler David Scrivner of Forsyth, will provide live musical accompaniment for the dancing.  Joining them will be fiddler Ashley Forrest of Norwood and banjoist Nathan McAlister of Neosho.

An “icebreaker” workshop conducted by Daniel Farnum, a member of The Farnum Family from Galena, Mo., and the group’s “Regency Dance” caller and instructor, is scheduled Friday evening before the dances beginning at 6 p.m.  This is a great opportunity to learn the techniques and enjoy the dance hours even more.





The Ozark Mountain Long Rifles Club will once again set up a rendezvous area on the grounds of the Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival June 14 and 15.  This living history exhibit can be found on the west lawn of the West Plains Civic Center.

All activities in this area are period related and include shelter, clothing, food preparation and sleeping quarters.  Blacksmiths will demonstrate their art, and participants are always happy to host discussion and instruction on dozens of ancestral and traditional primitive skills.  Stop and see the many established lodges with their assorted supplies and necessaries, and speak with the residents of this decidedly different neighborhood!

The Ozark Mountain Long Rifles is a club whose purpose is to promote the sport of black powder shooting and preserve the lifestyle, arts and skills of people living in pre-1840 America, primarily the fur trade segment of the American Frontier.

In keeping with its purpose, the club works to expand the sport of muzzle loading shooting by providing organized shoots and camps.  They promote the safety of the general public and club members, and encourage the shooting of muzzleloaders.

The club has a monthly Saturday shoot in January and March through September, with a three-day rendezvous the second weekend in February, the first weekend in May and the fourth weekend of October.  For more information, contact John Bill Murrell at 417-256-3238 or by email at johnwmurrell@centurytel.net.





The Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival features both demonstrations and sales by a wide variety of material artists and craftsmen throughout the two-day event.

Material arts and crafts genres that have often been exhibited during the festival include blacksmithing, basketry, flint knapping, gunsmithing, making of hunting calls and other supplies for outdoor pursuits, making of musical instruments, the use of herbs and other natural resources for food and medicinal purposes, spinning and weaving, and quilting, among others.

Many of these 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-20th century, such arts and crafts are no longer practical necessities, but many talented artisans and craftsmen 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 craftsmen 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 of the artisans and craftsmen have products available for purchase; all of them encourage festival goers to observe their work and ask them questions about it.  Organizations devoted to material arts and crafts forms that often participate in the festival include the Southern Belle Grandmothers Club, the Hutton Valley Quilters, the Country Heritage Spinning and Weaving Guild, and the Ozark Mountain Long Rifles.

This year’s festival attendees will have an opportunity to discuss moonshine making with representatives from the Copper Run Distillery in Walnut Shade, Mo.  This is the first year Copper Run Distillery has participated in the festival, and representatives will have an apparatus on hand to aid in the discussions.






Children of all ages are welcome to stop by for some good, old-fashioned fun at the children’s activity area hosted by Kelli Cook and Beth Belt and sponsored by the West Plains Public Library.

Visitors can try out an antique corn sheller, a new addition to this year’s children’s area at the festival.  What is a corn sheller?  Our corn sheller is a simple machine made of metal and designed to separate the kernels from a dried corncob.  These machines were developed to reduce the amount of manual labor needed to strip corncobs to use the kernels for livestock feed, heating fuel and to prepare the corn for milling into flour and cornmeal.

Children also can participate in a game of “Drop the Handkerchief” or run in a sack race.  Other games include shooting marbles, hopscotch, checkers and chess.  Children also can make a button spinner to take home and take advantage of some soapy water to blow bubbles.  “We’d like to bring a small plastic swimming pool and put soapy water in it and have various things kids could use to blow bubbles,” Cook said.  “So stop by and spend some time enjoying the simple pleasures of the past!”
Activities will take place from 3 to 7 p.m. each day of the festival on the grassy area next to Grisham Properties on East Main Street across from the First Baptist Church North Campus Building (the old library site).



Attendees at this year’s Old Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival will be treated to a heavy schedule of musical workshops during the two-day event.  Artists who know the value of passing along the knowledge and joy of traditional music will share their talents with all who want to participate.  The schedule includes:

Friday, June 14:

12 PM – Five-String Banjo Picking with Norm Farnum

Norm Farnum, father and band leader of the eight-member Farnum Family of Galena, Mo., picks five-string banjo and rhythm guitar, sings lead and harmony vocals, and has nearly 40 years of stage experience under his belt.  His musical credits include five seasons at Silver Dollar City, three at The Roy Clark Theatre and seven aboard the Lake Queen paddle wheeler, often accompanied by his wife Trish.  At the 2012 Grand Lakes Festival, he placed second in the banjo competition.  The Farnum Family performs American and European-originated folk music from the early 1800s through the mid 1900s.


1PM – Autoharp with Emily Dowden Estes

Emily Dowden Estes has been a musician-singer-songwriter of bluegrass, folk and Americana music nearly all her life and developed her skills in the scenic, country setting of the Ozarks.  Emily toured for over a decade with her family band, “The Dowden Sisters,” performing at music festivals and concerts across the U.S. and parts of Canada.  At the North Carolina Fiddlers’ Convention, where she won the clawhammer banjo championship.  She formed a new group, the “Emily Dowden Band” and will release her first solo project later this year. In 2012, Emily joined the cast of “Kelly’s Kountry Junction” a comedy/variety/country music television show on PBS, based out of Joplin. The “Hee-Haw” themed show has gained over a million viewers. Emily can be seen on the show weekly. She is also a regular entertainer at the Baker Creek Garden/Seed Co. in Mansfield, where she was delegated to shoot a little music video, playing the character of “Red Wing” as PR for the seed company and festival. It was filmed in the pioneer village and gardens at Bakersville.

She strives to keep the art and customs of traditional Ozarks music alive and well, by teaching it to others. She does not have an official web page yet, but does have a Facebook fan page. You can “like” her at https://www.facebook.com/emily.dowden.band




2PM – Fiddle Harmony with Alvie Dooms and Friends

Ava resident and rhythm guitarist Alvie Dooms will be joined by fiddlers David Scrivner, Forsyth, and Ashley Hull Forrest, Norwood, to demonstrate a workshop on fiddle harmony.  Dooms, long-time rhythm guitarist for the late master fiddler Bob Holt, is considered a master of his craft by the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program (TAAP) of the Missouri Folk Arts Program.  Scrivner and Forrest learned how to play old-time fiddle tunes and fiddle harmonies from Holt before his passing.

Joining the trio will be Nathan McAlister of Neosho, who will play back-up banjo and, possibly, join in as a third fiddler.





3PM – Bass Playing with Daniel Farnum

Daniel Farnum, a member of the Farnum Family of Galena, Mo., will offer instruction on playing the upright bass.  The Farnum Family performs American and European-originated folk music from the early 1800s through the mid 1900s.

4PM – Mandolin Playing with Benjamin Farnum

Benjamin Farnum, a member of the Farnum Family from Galena, Mo., primarily plays mandolin for the group and will offer tips on playing this uniquely traditional instrument.  He is known for his exceptional skills on the instrument, which earned him second-place honors at the 2012 Grand Lakes Festival.


Saturday, June 15:


11AM – Basic Fiddle for Beginners with the Farnum Family

Members of the Farnum Family of Galena, Mo., will offer basic instruction for playing the fiddle to beginners.  Daughter Hannah, 15, is a student of world class and state champion fiddle player Ricky Boen, and placed fourth at the 2011 and 2012 Branson Fiddle Fests, second at the 2012 Grand Lakes American Heritage Music Festival in Grove, Okla., and third in the Walnut Valley Old Time Fiddle Championship in Winfield, Kan.  Daughter Maggie, nine, provides some sweet duets with Hannah during the groups’ performances.  She placed second at the 2012 Branson Fiddle Fest.

12 Noon – Pennywhistle with Trish Farnum – Pennywhistle

Trish Farnum, the mother of the Farnum Family of Galena, Mo., will offer tips on playing the pennywhistle.  Trish is the group’s primary pianist, but she also plays pennywhistle on several songs.  She grew up playing music in church, recitals and for 4-H programs and first performed in Branson in 1987 playing ragtime piano for the Vaudeville Show at Shepherd of the Hills.


1PM – Harmonica Gathering hosted by Norm and Benjamin Farnum

Performers Norm and Benjamin Farnum of the Farnum Family, Galena, Mo., will host our second annual Harmonica Gathering.  Come prepared to share your favorite harmonica tunes (and your best stories).


2PM – Banjo with Van Colbert

Long-time Festival performer Van Colbert, also known for his part with the Blackberry Winter Band, will conduct this banjo workshop.  Old-time music has been a family tradition for generations for Van and his brothers, Vernon and John, all of whom hail from Willow Springs, Mo.  “Mom and Dad instilled in us the love of their music, and to this day we play, sing and remember,” said Van, who is known for his unique “two-finger” roll style on banjo.  Van also is recognized as a “master” of the clawhammer banjo style by the Missouri Folk Arts Program’s TAAP.





3PM – Missouri Fiddling Traditions with Howard Marshall

Professor Emeritus, former chairman of the Department of Art History and Archaeology, and former director of the Missouri Cultural Heritage Center at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Howard Marshall will discuss the major themes of his new book, “Play Me Something Quick and Devilish:” Old-Time Fiddlers in Missouri, and play examples of the historic tunes discussed in its pages.

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