(West Plains) – One of the skills 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.
The first ever Ozarks Wild Turkey Calling Competition will begin at 9 AM Saturday, June 15, in the West Plains Civic Center theater. The event is 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, along with Howell County Outpost and Ozark Outfitters.
The competition will offer three categories – friction, open and youth – with first, second and third place prizes awarded in each. Cash and sponsor prizes 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, TN.
The registration fee is $20 for the friction and open categories and no fees 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 call 417-469-2881 or 417-293-7751.
MISSOURI FOX TROTTERS
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 PM 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.
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.
INTERPRETIVE BIKE RIDE
Another new addition to this year’s festival is an interpretive bike ride through approximately 25 miles of area countryside. Led by festival committee member Edward T Boys, the ride will begin at 7 AM June 15 at the West Plains Civic Center “and ends whenever you decide you are done.”
The ride, which includes approximately 500 feet of climb along the route, attempts to combine place-based experiences with a leisurely ride through the Ozark hills to Pomona, he explained. Using smart phone technology, bikers will follow a general route to select locations where QR codes will be posted. Riders can scan the code with their phone and see a brief set of facts and history about that particular location. Some of the places included along the route include the Howell County Courthouse, which has been destroyed three times; a couple of ghost towns north of West Plains that once were home to thousands of fruit orchards; the scene of the Great Dance Hall Explosion on East Main Street in 1928; and the spot where Howell County Sheriff C. Roy Kelley was gunned down by the Barker-Karpis Gang in 1931.
Cost of the ride is free, but registration and a signed waiver will be required. For more information, e-mail TOTMFBikeRide@gmail.com.
The centerpiece of the Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival is the music, and once again, festival goers will be entertained by performers on two stages – the main stage on the east side of the civic center and the 2nd Stage on East Main Street near Court Square.
Confirmed headliners for the main stage include Nora Jane Struthers and The Party Line, a high-energy Nashville based quintet that performs Struthers’ original story-songs with tight three-part harmonies, fiddle, claw-hammer banjo, acoustic guitar, bass and drums; The Flatlanders, a legendary 1970s traditional/alternative country music group home-based in Texas; The Franz Family of Berryville, AR, which has performed a variety of traditional music in Branson for many years; and blues performer/folk artist King Clarentz (a.k.a. Clarence Brewer) from southern Missouri. King Clarentz and The Flatlanders will take the stage at 6 and 8 p.m., respectively, June 14, while The Franz Family and Nora Jane Struthers and The Party Line will play at 6 and 8 p.m., respectively, on June 15.
Other favorite activities slated for this year’s festival include the second annual Dutch oven cooking competition June 14; the sixth annual mule jump competition at 3 PM June 15 in the parking lot near the West Plains Senior Center; the 12th annual Bob Holt Old-Time Jig Dancing Competition at 3 PM June 15 in the civic center theater; and the 10th annual “What’s Cookin’ Stage” with Judy Harden.
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 to all festival events is free.
Major sponsors 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 this event was provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.
For more information about the festival, visit www.oldtimemusic.org, or “like” the “Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival” page on Facebook for up to the minute information.