To the editor: The 25th Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival was deemed a great success by artists, artisans, vendors and attendees alike! It was wonderful to see the camaraderie of the artists – even though each of them share the music all year long, it’s not very often that they are able to play the same event. What a great support system they have!

This year was also a banner year for our food vendors. The centralized location for food choices seemed to be a win/win for attendees and vendors.

The steering committee for the Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival would like to thank everyone who was involved in any way with this year’s event. The two-day event is always the culmination of lots of planning and preparation, but without community support and assistance, the Festival would not happen.

The 200+ people who volunteer their time in one segment or another are the reason we are able to provide this experience each year, working toward celebrating and preserving the distinctive culture of the Ozark Highlands. What a blessing to live where there is such great support for this City of West Plains signature event!

We estimate the attendance at around 8,000 people over the two-day period and many of them were visitors from outside the area, which we hope benefits all our area businesses.

Music radiated from both the theater stage and the outside stage for two wonderful days, and our folkways artisans demonstrated traditional crafts. Our Cooking Stage was a great mix of storytelling, sharing and Dutch oven presentations.

Workshops were well-attended for most sessions, and we’re grateful to each one who performed or presented at this event. Jig Dance and Mule Jump competitions had great attendance again this year. Two nights of old-time square dancing paired seasoned dancers with novices, demonstrating this great tradition once again.

The Pie Competition and Beard Competition were well received once again, and we all enjoyed sampling the pie submissions. The beard competition had many more competitors this year. The Bucket Brigade and Children’s Activities areas boasted record crowds for their respective activities. The quilting area was busy both days – at the Quilt Show sponsored by the Southern Belle Grandmothers Club and in the quilting demonstration area on the mezzanine coordinated by Cindy McLean.

To our artists, sound techs, emcees, booth workers, survey takers, cart drivers, and all those who worked in the public eye and behind the scenes – thank you!  Each one of you who contributed your time and effort is appreciated.  Special thanks to the groups who helped with set-up and take-down - the 37th Judicial Juvenile Office and the West Plains R-7 BETA Club volunteers.

Thank you to our Festival partners:  West Plains Council on the Arts, Missouri State University-West Plains, the City of West Plains, the West Plains Civic Center, the Ozark Heritage Welcome Center and the Missouri Arts Council.  Your financial, technical, and in-kind support is invaluable.  Additionally, thanks to the many individuals from each of these organizations who contributed their personal time. 

We appreciate our sponsors who generously gave so that we can continue to provide an outstanding free-of-charge event for our community. Pickin’ Circle Sponsors - Hirsch Feed and Farm Supply and The Media Arts Center; Dance Circle Sponsors - Howell County Rural Fire Department, KY3, Ozark Area Network, South Central Golf Equipment and South Howell County Ambulance; Whittlin’ Circle Sponsors – Aid’s Downtown Antique Mall, Mega Motorsports, Renewal by Andersen, The Fish Shack and West Plains Bank and Trust; Quiltin’ Circle Sponsors - Bearded Geeks Beard and Mustache Club, Meek’s, Carol Silvey, the Southern Belle Grandmothers Club and West Plains Music; Other donors - All Saints Episcopal Church, The Avenue Theater Fine Arts Academy, PepsiCo Mid-America,  West Plains Area Chamber of Commerce, West Plains Optimists Club, West Plains Public Library, West Plains Senior Center, Grisham Properties and the West Plains R-7 School District.

Special thanks to our official print media sponsor, the West Plains Daily Quill, for their coverage before and after the event and for the wonderful program book provided to our guests. We also want to thank the other media outlets who provided Festival coverage – KY3 and Ozark Area Network. And grateful thanks to our Festival Hotel sponsor – The Hampton Inn.

Thank you especially to our Festival Steering Committee members who devote hundreds of hours throughout the year to the planning and execution of this Festival.  Your ongoing commitment to its success and growth are essential. 

Hoping for an even better event next year – mark your calendars for June 5 and 6, 2020!

Paula Speraneo

West Plains Council on the Arts

For the Festival Committee

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