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.

Different from its rural counterparts, bluegrass and country, old time music has its distinctive sound and makes its own important contribution to the complex palette of what we call indigenous American music.

Musicians, artisans, and storytellers from throughout the state come to the West Plains festival in enthusiastic support of creating a place to listen, watch, interact and honor the old time traditions of our southern Ozarks communities.

Demonstrating the spectrum of art forms from dance fiddling, local jig steps, and gospel singing, to the songs, narratives and ballads that tell the story of a place, to the occupational traditions of blacksmithing, log skidding, spinning and basket making, artists show how these arts are embedded in the experience of our daily lives and how they fit the functional and symbolic needs of our community.

The festival was established and has been supported by the West Plains Council on the Arts through partial funding by the Missouri Arts Council and the Missouri Folk Arts Program. The festival is being produced through a partnership between WPCA/MAC, Missouri State University-West Plains, the City of West Plains, the West Plains Civic Center, and the Ozark Heritage Welcome Center. Additional support has been provided by Missouri Humanities and Missouri Department of Tourism.

Three ideas are central to the festival:

  • Acknowledgement of the many able local performers
  • The need to save these expressive traditions
  • Maintaining a focus of authenticity

The festival organizers have incorporated audio and videotaping sessions for the benefit of the artists and to establish a collection for the conservation of knowledge and awareness of the traditional arts.

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WPCA Mission – West Plains Council on the Arts has been providing support and assistance to arts endeavors in the West Plains area since 1975.   Our mission is to stimulate and foster public participation in cultural activities, and to disseminate the knowledge and product of such cultural activities to the public in order to broaden the appreciation and availability of the arts in the West Plains region.

WPCA provides educational programs which support innovation and creative expression in the arts; presents artists and art forms that promote artistic and cultural diversity; provides guidance, resources and infrastructure to develop non-profit community-based arts groups; and sponsors festivals, competitions and awards to promote and support artists, and to celebrate and preserve the traditional culture of the region.

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