Hootin and Hollarin is a Big Deal
If you're in the southern region of Missouri, be sure to stop by Gainesville to see Hootin and Hollarin. This festival is a big deal, from Bed and Outhouse Races, to homemade kettle corn, awards and commemorations, and local music that makes you tap your feet, it's worth a visit!
Gainesville is definitely a town where everyone knows everyone, but that doesn't stop them from welcoming you into one of their favorite festivals of the year!
Hootin an Hollarin started in 1961, when a group of locals decided that if people didn't start paying attention to the heritage of the Ozarks, it was going become nothing more than a memory. Since then, Hootin an Hollarin has had a special focus on all things old-fashioned and celebrating with loved ones. The festival takes up three days each year, beginning the 3rdThursday of September. Traditional demonstrations of crafts, parades, music and dancing continue today. Over the course of time, other events have been added to the festival schedule and are quickly becoming known as part of the tradition. This festival has always been fun for the young and the young at heart!
The first thing I saw at the festival was the Outhouse Races. There were three teams, one of which was running in memory of the race winner from the last three years, who's funeral had taken place the day before the race. Each team consisted of five people, one rider and four runners. They were timed, and ran to the end of the square, switched riders, and ran back. The fastest team won, as per usual with most races. The trophies ranged from actual trophies, to bathroom spray, to rolls of toilet paper! It was certainly a great way to start the day!
Across the highway and down in a shallow valley, you can bring your bow or guns to take part in the Turkey Shoot, hosted and monitored by the Missouri Conservation Department. The targets were set up with Deer, Turkey, and Mountain Cat props for you to test your arm and your aim. If you're a hunter, this is an activity you don't want to miss!
The square is perfectly shaded, and makes walking and meandering the multitude of shops comfortable even on the hottest days. There were so many choices for food and drinks, it was hard to decide where to eat when you're stomach finally gets grumbly from all of that shopping, walking, and talking to the shop owners and other festival goers. Anything from BBQ, deep fried Oreos and Snickers, to fresh Root Beer from a keg, there's a little something to appeal to everyone!
Whether you're looking for homemade, fresh kettle corn, hand poured candles and wax cubes, wind chimes made from soda cans, or art stations, Hootin and Hollarin has just about anything you could think of! Wooden guns and swords, tutu dresses, and handmade silver jewelry are among the other many shops lining the square.
On the stage set up on the east side of the square, local musicians sang and entertained through the day, and anyone who felt like getting up to dance could do so on the dance floor set up in front of the risers. On the same stage, I listened to a small award event. A representative of the House in the area presented the family of a man named Gerry with a plaque of recognition. Gerry had grown up in the area, and had moved away to Kansas for work, saving up enough to purchase a farm back home. He was called to serve in Vietnam, and was killed in action in 1970. The gentleman recognizing Gerry let the family know that he will be passing a bill to name a highway near the farm where Gerry made his home. It was a very emotional speech, accompanied by tears and a lot of hugs!
To the northeast of the square, delicious looking pastries lined the tables, waiting to be judged in the Pie Contest. I wouldn't have minded a slice of each one! Apple, Cinnamon, and other amazing flavors sat in a row, looking pretty for the many pictures taken.
There are also quite a few activities for the kids, including face painting, rides around the square, and a dunk tank! This is a festival the entire family will get a kick out of. Make sure not to miss it next time you're in the Ozarks in September!