Kyle Troutman: One fest, two fest, three fest, four

Saturday, September 18, 2021

If there’s one thing I have come to learn about people in southwest Missouri, it’s that they love a good festival.

The season of festivals has been upon us for a few weeks now, and you don’t have to travel even an hour each weekend at this point to spend all your money on craft booths, spin your kids into vertigo or train yourself for Thanksgiving-level calorie intake.

Events unofficially kicked off in the area at the end of July with the Stones Prairie Picnic. It’s one of the few I have not had the chance to personally attend, but I look forward every year to our coverage, specifically the putt-putt and bowling photos we always have. The old-time-ness of the games at Stones Prairie is intriguing, and something I hope to take my kids to play one day.

Mid-August ushered in one of the largest events in our area, the Howdy Neighbor Days weekend in Pierce City. The planning and execution of this four-day shebang is impressive. Furthermore, the value of the children’s rides, live music, annual duck race and wide array of other attractions makes Howdy Neighbor Days a premier pick for weekend event seekers.

As we move into late August and early September, there becomes fewer and fewer weekends to keep festivals from overlapping.

On Aug. 28, people could have taken in the rides, inflatables, horseshoe tournament, shopping, grilled chicken lunch, music or duck race at the Wheaton Festival. Or, for the craftier creature, the day was also busy in downtown Monett for the annual Repurposed Faire. The eighth installation of that two-day event is a big draw for the City of Monett, offering everything from artsy projects to household goods, plus a few how-to demonstrations.

Last Saturday was the weekend of carnage, as the annual Demolition Derby at Bill Hailey Arena in Cassville entertained the masses. While it’s not a festival, per se, it is quite an entertaining way to spend a Saturday night and root on local competitors.

This weekend may well be the busiest for the area, as there are at least five events today. Down south, the annual Shakin’ in the Shell Festival is scheduled, offering all the typical rides and vendor booths, plus a car show, dog show and even a cold brewski or glass of pressed grapes for those that imbibe.

Also down south is the second annual TroutFest, Cassville’s newest iteration of a fall festival. It has grown this year to involve a trout cooking competition and corn hole tournament. It coincides with Veterans Free Fishing Day at Roaring River State Park. You can also catch a fireworks show on Friday at the Cassville football stadium following the game.

Further north, the City of Wheaton is hosting a new community appreciation event with hot dogs, some rides and a “Dunk a Cop” booth.

St. Mary’s Catholic School is hosting the Urban Cowboy Rodeo tonight, where teams from area businesses compete in six events to earn the title of champion. There is also a craft fair throughout the afternoon and multiple inflatables, climbing walls and food trucks.

Possibly the biggest event of the day though is headed toward Springfield — Marionville AppleFest. That event is a two-day affair, kicking off today with a parade, carnival, a gigantic vendor setup (91 this year), a myriad of contests (like best Snow White and Johnny Appleseed), a pageant, Marionville Idol, live music and a fireworks show.

Next weekend, there’s the Pierce City Arts Fest, and in October, Frontier Days off Highway 248 and the Chili Cook-Off in Cassville, along with The Show, will wrap up the season.

All these events are unique to our area and something we should be proud of.

Where I grew up, the biggest thing we had to look forward to was the Arkansas State Fair, and even that tended to be overcrowded and not as fun as you might think.

The benefit of all our events here is that they are smaller, more numerous and as far as family fun goes, much more enjoyable.

Anyone who complains there’s “nothing to do in small towns” isn’t from southwest Missouri — there is more than is possible to do, so get out and do as much as you can!

Kyle Troutman has served as the editor of The Monett Times since 2014. In 2017, he was named William E. James/Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist for daily newspapers. He may be reached at 417-235-3135 or editor@monett-times.com.

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