Springfield is located at the heart of entertainment and activities in the Ozark Mountains, and is the ideal location for any Missouri adventure. The city is a must for outdoor enthusiasts with a variety of lush parks and preserves that feature just about every outdoor activity imaginable. If you're looking for a one-of-a-kind experience, visit the Fantastic Caverns. This local attraction is a former underground river with stunning rock formations available for tours via jeep-drawn wagon.
The Ozark Empire Fair has been a staple in the community for more than eight decades, and it will take place July 27 - August 5, at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds. The family-friendly event is one of the largest summer events in Southwest Missouri, and organizers expect more than 160,000 people. Attendees can see a variety of free attractions and performances like Timberworks Lumberjacks (lumberjack competition), Guy McLean (horseman, entertainer), Cow Town USA (dairy farm demonstration), Catherine Hickland (celebrity hypnotist), and more. Patons can also see great live performances at the KY3 Grandstand such as Daughtry, Randy Houser with Lindsay Ell, O'Reilly Auto Parts Outlaw Nationals Monster Truck Show, and more. Art fans shouldn't miss out on the art and culture program that includes an exhibits competition, Missouri-made products for sale, and a variety of demonstrations by local artists. We got the chance to interview Vickie Hayward, a representative for the event, to learn more about this great Springfield experience.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
VH: This is the 81st annual Ozark Empire Fair.
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
VH: Last year between 160,000 and 165,000 people attended.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?
VH: The fair draws all ages from newborns to the elderly.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
VH: We try to find acts and shows that you won't find at other nearby festivals or events.
RAL: Take me through a day at the event.
VH: Each day of the fair offers a changing set of fun activities to enjoy. The livestock area rotates its featured animals, so there is always something new to see. There are different bands on the free stages each evening, offering patrons a spectrum of concert experiences. Life and Arts has new contest daily, and there are different chefs on the cooking stage in the East Hall. The Live Local Marketplace will also be in the East Hall, and will feature locally made products and fair apparel for purchase. West Hall in the E*Plex is full of vendor booths selling a variety of items. Center Hall will house the local station KY3, as well as the Discovery Center for kids. The Grandstand hosts live music performances from Daughtry, Randy Houser, For King and Country, and Zach Williams. It will also feature the Hardee’s Extreme Invitational Rodeo, Outlaw Nationals Monster Truck Show, Night of Destruction: Demolition Derby and Figure 8 featuring a Combine Derby, and the Ozark Thunder Outlaw Truck and Tractor Pull featuring the S&H New Holland Pit Party.
RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?
VH: There are several great food vendors on the fairgrounds such as the Motorway Café, Hiland Dairy Café, Pizza Patio, Fazolis, Ozark Beef House, Rudy's, and much more.
RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up specifically for the event?
VH: We have many sponsor hotels that give us a special fair rate. Please follow the link for more information.
RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?
VH: This year we will have Catherine Hickland, a hypnotist who starred in One Life to Live for many years, as well a Cowtown Exhibit showcasing how things were made in the past, featuring butter making, milking a cow, etc.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
VH: Thousands of people come back year after year for the memorable experience. We offer something for everyone from the livestock activities to the Life and Arts Contest. The fair has a high level of excitement that is tough to beat.
For more information about the Ozark Empire Fair, please visit the event website.