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Ozark Empire Fair Opens Friday

Photo Credit: Jeremy Shreckhise

This Friday marks the opening of the Ozark Empire Fair. The Missouri Department of Conservation building will be the centerpiece for this year’s opening ceremonies because the building is 50 years old. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann talked with a conservation department spokesperson and has this report.

That is the sound of the waterfall in the large stone aquarium that sits center-stage in the Missouri Department of Conservation building. This Friday it will be filled with crayfish, while several other aquatic tanks will also be filled with native wildlife. Francis Skalicky is spokesperson for the department of conservation, and says there will be many exhibits celebrating this historical anniversary.

"This year at our building we will have lve fish in our aquarium. We'll have crayfish in the center aquarium, and we will have snakes courtesy of the Dickerson Park Zoo. Those [will be] the live exhibits. We are also celebrating the 50th anniversary of turkey hunting in Missouri, and we will also have exhibits dedicated to that." Skalicky said.

The plaque hanging outside of the building, which was dedicated in 1960, names the original 40 businesses that supported this facility. Skalicky says that of those 40 original businesses, as many as 18 are still in existence today and continue to support the department. These supporters will be honored as part of the opening ceremonies taking place this Friday to mark the opening of the fair.

"Each year the fair has opening ceremonies on the first day of the fair. This year the ceremonies are going to be held in front of our building. We're going to have our Chairman of Conservation Commissioner speak. We are also going to be giving out certificates of appreciation to the businessess we have identified, who have helped us with this building." said Skalicky.

Many people each year visit the conservation building as part of their fair experience. Skalicky says that in addition to the many fun exhibits, there is an abundance of literature available to educate the public about the department’s mission.

"The mission of the Conservation Department is to manage the fish, forest and wildlife resources of the state. You could say that the mission of this building is to give information regarding the fish, forest, and wildlife of the state. [This is done] through live animal exhibits, through staff that can answer questions, and through literature to get that information out into the public. And I guess the message that this building sends every year is a big 'thank you'." Skalicky said.

Skalicky says that the conservation building is a great opportunity to thank the businesses, the fair, and the many people who visit each year. Opening ceremonies will take place at noon in front of the conservation building, which is found on the west side of the fairgrounds. Click here for a link to more information about the Ozark Empire Fair. For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.