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The 17th annual Old Time Music Ozark Heritage Festival is held Friday and Saturday June 17 and 18 in West Plains. KSMU's Randy Stewart has more.
RANDY: Matthew Meacham, folklorist with the West Plains Council on the Arts, explains the Festival's mission.
MATTHEW MEACHAM: The purpose of the Festival is to contribute to the conservation and the ongoing vitality of traditional artistic activity here in the Missouri Ozarks, and also hopefully to make it a basis for ecomonic opportunity as well.RANDY: When we talk about the "culture" of the area we're not talking just about music. What all are we talking about?MATTHEW: Traditional crafts and traditional occupational skills: everything from training mules to jump over fences for purposes of hunting, to quilting and all manner of things. We're also certainly talking about dance traditions, which of course are closely linked with musical traditions. And the whole history and folk life surrounding the timber industry in the Current River region. And of course, traditional foodways--everything from squirrel pot pie to chocolate mayonnaise cake--hopefully not mixed together! But all of these aspects of the culture of the Ozarks will be represented in one way or another at the Festival this weekend. The Festival starts around 9:00AM on Friday (June 17) at the "What's Cooking" stage and exhibits inside the Civic Center. The music will start on the main stage on Friday at 11:00AM. The Festival continues through Saturday (June 18)--the final event of the Festival will be a performance by Ron and Leona Williams on our main stage at 8:00PM on Saturday. And all of the events take place in and near the West Plains Civic Center.RANDY: In addition to all that, as we've said, you'll have blacksmiths, spinners and weavers, quilters, candle makers, basket makers, and all kinds of musical guests including Blackberry Winter, the musicians who played on the soundtrack of Winter's Bone.MATTHEW: We're lucky to have them with us. They're involved in a nationwide tour right now, and so they're becoming familiar to people all over the country. But actually, they'll be very familiar to long-time Festival goers, because many of the musicians in Blackberry Winter are from in and around Howell County, who have participated in this Festival in one way or another for many years.RANDY: And we should emphasize that it's all FREE and open to the public both days.MATTHEW: Exactly. We're very fortunate that we've had a lot of financial support from local and regional businesses and organizations, as well as state agencies.RANDY: How many people, on the average, do you have attending the Festival every year?MATTHEW: Typically anywhere from five to ten thousand.RANDY: Matthew Meacham with the West Plains Council on the Arts, talking about the 17th Old Time Music Ozark Heritage Festival, Friday and Saturday June 17 and 18 in West Plains. The best source for information is on the Festival's Facebook page--just go to www.facebook.com and search for "Old Time Music Ozark Heritage Festival."