West Plains, MO - There are new hours, headliners and events, plus the old favorites for the Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival set for June 15, 16 and 17 on and around Court Square in West Plains.
Traditionally, the festival has started on a Friday evening. This June it will begin at noon, Friday, June 15, close at 10 that evening. It will continue 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. June 16 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 17. Admission is free.
Headliners will be Hank Thompson and the Brazo Valley Band, Riders in the Sky, and Mike Webb and Charlie Collins, according to Festival Director Kathleen Morrissey.
Webb and Collins and Riders will perform June 15. Thompson will perform twice, in the afternoon and evening of June 16.
The festival, in its 13th year, family friendly and now a signature event in the city, is well-known for showcasing local artisans, preserving the heritage of the Ozarks by passing traditions from one generation to the next through picking circles and workshops, Morrissey said. In the past, most Ozarks households owned a fiddle and youngsters picked up playing skills from their elders. "These musical traditions are not being passed down the same way anymore. Now, we have to find other ways to make that happen," she added.
The festival also will feature Howell County's 150th (sesquicentennial) celebration, including a re-enactment of a Civil War attack on the Howell County Courthouse.
The Southern Belle Grandmothers will have a quilt exhibit, plus there will be lots of artwork and a photograph exhibit featuring 1940s rodeos.
Morrissey said festival funding comes from the community, West Plains Council on the Arts, Missouri State University-West Plains, the local Chamber of Commerce and the city of West Plains.
Plus, grants from the Missouri Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, Missouri Folk Arts Program, the Mid-America Arts Alliance and the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.
MEET THE HEADLINERS
Henry "Hank" William Thompson is a singer and guitar player who in 1989 was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, the crowning touch to his first six decades as a major contributing force in the music world.
Known as the "King of Western Swing," his brand of music is described as a magical blend of big band bravura with fiddle and steel guitar.
Among his recordings are "The Wild Side of Life," "Humpty Dumpty Heart," "Oklahoma Hills" and "Six Pack to Go."
With 29-plus years and over 5,000 performances under their collective cowboy belt, Riders in the Sky, the multi-Grammy Award winning western music group whose music is grounded in the American music traditions of the legendary cowboy singers - and whose fun-filled performances have wowed audiences - are themselves the stuff of legend, supporters say.
Members Ranger Doug, Woody Paul, Too Slim and Joey started working together in 1977, and were recently inducted into the Walk of Western Stars in Newhall, Calif.
The Riders continue to record seasonal episodes of Riders Radio Theatre, a radio program that's been broadcast by about 170 public and commercial stations since 1989. In 1982, the group became the first exclusively western music artists to join the Grand Ole Opry.
The group reportedly is among the most historically significant acts in the history of American music.
Grand Ole Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs once called Mike Webb "a great disciple of Brother Oswald's school of music." Webb learned to play the old-time clawhammer banjo and mountain-style dobro from long-time Roy Acuff band member Pete Kirby, also known as "Bashful Brother Oswald."
Later, Webb bought a dobro, carried it to the opry to play for Oswald, and a friendship began that lasted until Oswald's death on Oct. 17, 2002. Oswald also taught Webb some of the old-time vaudeville comedy routines.
Webb became a member of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys in 1966 in Nashville and remained with Acuff until 1992 when Acuff died. Collins then teamed with Brother Oswald. Together, Webb and Collins perform all over the country, including at the Grand Ole Opry. Webb and Collins' music is unique with its presentation of old-timey fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar and dobro, supporters say.
Nothing brings the past clearly to mind like the smell of old-fashioned cooking, just like Grandma used to make, and that's what visitors to the festival cooking stage will find.
In addition to the regular favorites of sourdough bread, doughnuts, chocolate gravy and homemade biscuits, this time demonstrations will include hominy-making, fried green tomatoes, tomato gravy, and lamb and mutton cooking, according to cooking stage coordinator Judy Harden of West Plains.
There will be lots of free samples, and if tasting something you like, there will be a recipe swap, she said.
The schedule has not been finalized, but Harden said demonstrations will take place that Friday afternoon, and most of Saturday and Sunday.
Harden said she is looking for some multi-generational projects, with grandmothers, mothers and daughters teaming up to demonstrate their families' favorite fixin'.
"The cooking stage is about bringing back memories, which is what the festival is all about. It takes us back to a time when there was no fast food. The visitors who stop by all have a story from their past to share as they sit around and sample the goodies," Harden said.
The festival will include many other musical performers, vendors selling their wares, activities for children, pickin' circles, a jig dance competition, more dancing and some music workshops.
Bring your lawn chairs, dancing shoes, appetite for good food and ear for great old-time music.