Hundreds attend Hootin an Hollarin
The 59th celebration of Hootin an Hollarin came off “about as close to perfect as a Hootin an Hollarin could get,” one regular festival goer proclaimed. Skies stayed blue or partly cloudy, the music rolled along as though composed just for Ozark County, and folks young and old came together to take “A trip back when” – this year’s festival theme.
Festival chairperson Nancy Walker told the Times Monday, “I just thought it was really good. Really, really good. I had a good time at Hootin an Hollarin, and I hope everyone else did too.”
Lions Club members and other volunteers set up the festival stage and put together the square dance platforms Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, and by evening the square was rimmed by tents, booths and stands offering up a wide variety of handcrafted merchandise, tempting taste treats, appealing raffle prizes and areas where demonstrators showed the olden ways of bygone days.
Fifteen Ozark County teenage girls competed in the Hootin an Hollarin queen pageant Thursday night, with Lily Parker claiming the crown at the end of the night. Brandy Belt not only was elected Miss Sweetie Pie by the other contestants. She was also named one of three Hootin an Hollarin princesses, the others being Star Janes and Jessee Latham. Cheyanne Clinton is this year’s deputy queen. Gainesville High School principal Justin Gilmore served as pageant emcee.
As the judges’ votes were tallied, Paula Herd Rose was recognized on stage as the 2019 Barney Douglas Citizen of the Year. Then, with the queen crowned and the honors be-stowed, the street cleared so that the square dancers could take to the boards, twirling and whirling until midnight.
Fun festival Friday
Friday’s lineup included more musical acts followed by the always-popular costume parade, the little-kids celebrity title contests and the thrilling Hootin an Hollarin bed races, which this year attracted a record 14 entries. The outhouse races came next, and this year, like last, the newer, “high-performance” outhouse suffered mechanical issues after a couple of runs, and the backup outhouse had to be rolled onto the “track” so that the silliness could continue.
Most of the old-fashioned kids games this year occurred in a shady new site this year – on the lawn on the north side of the courthouse. The horseshoe pitching, archery and shotgun competitions attracted several contestants, and the shade-tree pickers’ impromptu music sessions ran almost continuously throughout the festival, at one point even including well-known Missouri State University music historian Gordan McCann.
The 2019 Hootin an Hollarin pet show Saturday morning attracted one of the most diverse slates of candidates ever, according to chairperson Konnie Plumlee. Jeremiah Hamm won the “Most Unusual” category with his hedgehog Miss Prickle Pants, and several reptiles and even a pet rat joined the line-up along with the usual talented and sometimes well-dressed dogs, cats, bunnies and chickens.
Kannon Morrison, 14, came out on top in the annual shotgun competition Saturday morning using a borrowed shotgun. His mother, Heather Morrison, said this week that Kannon went to the shotgun and archery competition with his granddad, Bruce Hambelton, not planning to shoot. But then he changed his mind, borrowed Mike Bushong’s shotgun – and used it to beat Mike and 10 other shooters in the final round, according to MDC agent Jerry Kiger’s report elsewhere in this edition of the Times. Devin Uhlmann won the archery competition, with a high score of 19 out of 20.
While pets were prancing and sportsmen and women were shooting Saturday morning, pies were being seriously sampled in the pie-baking competition, which this year expanded to also include chicken and dumplins.
Vendors and demonstrators
Vendor and demonstrations co-chair Barbara Rackley Luna said vendors seemed happy with the turnout. Two of the volunteer fire departments that were hosting fundraiser raffles told the Times Monday they had sold more than 2,000 tickets at $1 each or six for $5.
The rag-doll-making booth was another hit this year with kids, who made about 250 dolls between Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon. Six women in the Historium’s quilting group provided the fabric strips for the dollmakers, who were guided by Jamie Green Kingsolver and her daughter in their efforts. Jamie said, “It was wonderful that many of the children remembered how to make them from last year and even reported that they had been making them at home and sharing them with others. It’s great to know that this old quilt-scrap dollmaking art will continue in the future and not be a lost art.”
The Big Parade
Morey Sullivan, who had announced in 2018 that this year would be his last as emcee, was honored on stage at noon Saturday. Hootin an Hollarin chairperson Nancy Walker thanked him for his 19 years of service, which continued the tradition of his father, Don Sullivan, who was emcee for decades before he retired in 1999. Walker presented Sullivan with a plaque naming him and his band this year’s parade marshals.
Sullivan was carried through the parade in grand style – on Gainesville city councilman Lee Bowen’s 1946 Chevy dump-bed truck (nicknamed “Dorthe” because, as Bowen says, “It’s not in Kansas anymore”). Sullivan was accompanied by long-time band member John Wehmeyer, along with his wife Dorrie, daughter Elizabeth Sullivan, and Elizabeth’s daughter Evan Rees.
The day before, Evan had won first place in the age 0-3 girls category of the Hootin an Hollarin costume contest wearing the same dress her mother had worn to win the same prize in 1985.
As the festival rolled into its final hours Saturday night, the east side of the square filled with square dancers and square-dance fans. When all three dance platforms stayed busy, a big group of young dancers formed an overside “square” on the asphalt “all the way to the hamburger stand,” as one person commented. It was a night to celebrate and enjoy being an Ozarkian.
Sunday morning, Lions Club and Gainesville FFA members stowed the platforms and cleaned up the trash.