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Demonstrators to showcase living history at Old-Time Music Festival


The Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival will be held June 7 and 8, 2024. The annual event in downtown West Plains, Mo., celebrates Ozarks music and culture. Admission to all festival events is free. Festival hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m. both days, with music beginning at noon.

Living History Encampment - east civic center lawn

The Living History Camp consists of artisans, enactors, artifacts and exhibits representing the Indigenous People, Colonial, Mountain Man and Civil War Periods. On view will be several kinds of lodgings, such as wall tents, marquees, wedge tents, diamonds, lean-tos and lodges. Many of the campers participating have traced their lineage to indigenous people who migrated through the Ozarks region and have strong historical connections to those who settled here. Traditions such as flintknapping, bow making and atlatles will be demonstrated.

You will find oak basketmaking, sassafras paddles, carved wooden dishes, leatherwork, muzzle-loader musket-building, firemaking, tin smithing, seed bead-weaving and linen button-making which were part of both the Colonial and Mountain Man periods.

Processes such as blacksmithing, soapmaking, toolmaking and whiskey-making were essential over all of the historical eras. Our demonstrators are masters in these processes.

All of these are part of the “Living History Encampment.” Look for a “River Camp” with famed C.W. Nichols at the helm of the jonboat. You might see other river folks like Luther Boxx, famous tie-hacker from the 1890s-1930s You can experience food-making — Dutch oven cooking and moonshine-making. The Rendezvous Store will have merchandise from Colonial and Mountain Man eras, and other objects for purchase.

Participants will explain clothing, equipment and “how things were done.” Visitors are encouraged to ask questions throughout the camp. 

Participating Demonstrators

Larry Quinalty - Dutch oven cooking

Sid Brink - Blacksmith

Rick Mansfield - C.W. Float Camp/Jon Boat

C.W. Nichols had been a guide in the old cypress swamps of the South and then after returning from the Great War in Europe, he guided on Ozark streams for more than half a century. Along with knowing where to find and catch fish, knowing the locations of the best gravel bars on which to camp, and of course storytelling, C.W.’s duties often included food preparation, said organizers.

View his old-time vintage river boat display and catch one of his presentations as he describes the evolution of agriculture in the Ozarks during the first half of the 20th century and how those changes impacted his culinary offerings for his clients. Attendees can also learn a bit of the folklore and traditions accompanying eating back then, such as why cornbread is torn and never sliced.

Ozark Mountain Long Rifles - Mountain-Man era camps

Kevin & Candy Sanders - Children’s toys

Jim & Linda Strauch - Carved implements and oak baskets 

Kelly & Bev Wilfong - Rendezvous Store

Cathy & Terry Wyatt - Soapmaking and whiskey-making

More information about the Living History participants is online at www.oldtimemusic.org/?page_id=6418.

Artisans and Traditional Arts

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, Ozarks 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.

Participating Artisans/Demonstrators


Treadle Sewing Machine — Judy Jo Protiva (10:30-noon both days)


Gardening the Ozarks – Marideth Sisco

- 10 a.m. Frida,y June 7

Gardening the Ozarks: If you’re tired of wrestling rocks — Take it, make it easy on yourself!

Master Gardener and longtime garden writer Marideth Sisco offers tips and tricks on creating lush, productive and easy-care gardens using no-till, raised beds, mulch weeding and containers — and building your own soil from scratch. Plus, a few ideas on Ozarks-friendly varieties. Bring your own experiences, and let’s talk!

"The Ozark Jubilee: Si Siman and the ABC Television Network." – Kitty Ledbetter

- 11 a.m. Friday June 7

As Executive Producer of the first continuous live network country music television show, the Ozark Jubilee (1955-1960), Si Siman had the task of selling country music to the fledgling ABC television network, whose executives viewed the Ozarks as a backwoods region “somewhere south of Times Square.” Yet ABC was barely off the ground and desperately needed inexpensive programming.

Siman managed to talk ABC into signing a contract with a two-week cancellation option. He made countless trips to New York during the Jubilee’s history to renew ABC’s commitment. This presentation will be a discussion of the problems Siman had in getting and keeping the ABC network contract.

I will have my book about Si Siman for sale and signing. The title is “Broadcasting the Ozarks: Si Siman and Country Music at the Crossroads.”

Kitty Ledbetter is professor emerita of English at Texas State University. Before entering academia, she was a country music disc jockey at radio stations in Missouri, Texas, Louisiana and North Carolina.

Fly fishing for the beginner – Davy Wotton

- 2-3:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday, June 7 and 8

In this 1.5 hour workshop, Wotton will talk about the history of fly fishing from the 1700s moving on to fly-fishing as we know it today. He will discuss the fly-fishing equipment we use, rods, reels and fly lines for the different species we fish for; species we can fish for here in the Ozarks with a fly rod; why we use the many different types of fly for those species; the techniques we use for those species such as streamer, dry fly, wet fly and nymphs, and why this is important.

“The first time I hooked into a trout was in the early 1950s,” says Davy Wotton. “It was not a big fish but certainly one that from that time set me on a path in my life which has taken me fishing in many distant parts of the world.

“My professional fly-fishing career started in the early 1960s tying flies commercially. Many of these fly patterns have been featured in fly fishing magazines. They are the result of a lifetime of fly-fishing experience around the world. They will almost certainly help you to improve your catch rate, particularly for many difficult stream side situations. Some of the flies have origins of long ago, some of those are of a more modern era. Either way you can be assured of flies that work.”


Booger County Flintknappers

Get to the Point flintknappers

Country Heritage Spinners and Weavers

Dominion Ozarks — Artist retreat and hand-crafted items

The Dulcimer Shoppe — Dulcimers

Elohi Spirit Gourds — Gourd Art plus hands-on project

Mariann Hyslop — Hand embroidery

Ozarks Older Iron Club

Ozark Pipes — wooden and antler smoking pipes

Ozark Wings 

Quiet Lady Ent. — Native American Beadwork

Margo Wendt — hand spinning

West Plains Pottery


West Plains Model Railroad Display


Bo Brown — Foraging the Ozarks

Larry Quinalty — Dutch Oven Cooking Class


Steve’s Pipe Organ — steam whistle calliope

Daniel Friend’s Ice Cream Maker

History docents stationed at historic points around Court Square

Tractors — past, present and future.

The Old-Time Music, Ozarks Heritage 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.

2024 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 the event is provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency. Additional support has been provided by Missouri Humanities and Missouri Department of Tourism.

For more information on the festival email info@westplainsarts.org, visit the website at www.oldtimemusic.org or follow @old.time.music.festival on Facebook.