Autumn beauty, fall treats, kiddy games and haunted nightmares

Joyce Morgan visited the McWilliams Pumpkin Patch in West Plains recently with grandsons Dalton, left, and Dakota. The pumpkin patch, on Howell County Road 6920 just west of West Plains, is open Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays noon to 6 p.m. Find out more about the McWilliams Pumpkin Patch by visiting their website,

Halloween is just a couple of weeks away, and fall- and Halloween-themed events are happening all over the region. The following events and ongoing attractions in the area cater to both families and those looking for something a little more frightening. Next week’s Times will include information on local trunk-or-treat and other Halloween-night events. 


This weekend

Apple Butter Day, Ozark Mennonite School in Seymour, Saturday

 The 28th annual Apple Butter Day will be held at the Ozark Mennonite School in Seymour this Saturday. Organizers say attendees can expect the scent of apples to fill the air as they watch the century-old tradition of simmering apples in large copper pots over an open fire. Homemade fried donuts will also be made and sold on site, and a hit-an-miss motor running an ice-cream machine will provide another sweet option for those who come hungry. Free train rides on the Apple Butter Express through the nearby woods will be offered, as well as free samples of all the goodies. A variety of handmade items will be available for purchase, including quilts, handcrafted furniture, wall art and baked goods. A pancake breakfast will be served from 7 to 8:30 a.m., and lunch will be served from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., offering a  choice of chicken noodle soup or chili with homemade bread and a slice of pie or barbecue chicken with scalloped potatoes, baked beans, coleslaw and homemade bread. An indoor auction will be held at 1 p.m., offering up quilts, handmade items and furniture to bidders. The Ozark Mennonite School is located 2 1/2 miles east of Seymour. Take Peewee Crossing Road off Highway 60 for about 1 mile to reach the event. All proceeds from the event benefit the Ozark Mennonite School. For more information, call John at 417-350-6276.


Clever Fall Festival, Saturday

The Clever Fall Festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, at  Clever High School. The event will feature food vendors, crafters, artists and local businesses selling their wares. Inflatables will be available for kids, and live music will be performed throughout the day. Admission is free. For more information search Facebook for “Clever Fall Festival” or call Bekki Peavler at 417-987-6318.


Haunting in the Hollows of Galloway Park, West Plains, Saturday

 The 11th annual Haunting in the Hollows at Galloway Creek Nature Park in West Plains will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21. The free, family-friendly Halloween event will feature special activities each hour. Animals will be on display for children to see, including a bald eagle, a golden eagle, three different types of owls, turtles, snakes, spiders and a petting zoo. DJ IMH will play music throughout the event, and a magician will perform. Other activities planned include face painting, free game booths with prizes, balloon art, cookie art, a picture frame designing craft, a concession stand and “Animal Tales,” an animal education program that features live spiders, snakes and other spooky sights. For more information, call West Plains City Hall at 417-256-7176 or search for “Haunt-ing in the Hollows” on Facebook.


Mark Twain Carnival, Rueter, Friday

Mark Twain Elementary School will host its fall carnival Friday, Oct. 20. The event will kick off at 5:30 p.m. with a chili and cinnamon roll supper, served by donation. At 6 p.m. a variety of games will open, and at 7 p.m. the king and queen coronation and live auction will be held. The live auction features items for bid, including Branson show tickets, Silver Dollar City tickets, a Stihl chainsaw, Mary Kay items, Bass Pro items, hunting and fishing supplies and more. A silent auction and two raffles will also be held. One raffle is for a Primos double blind; tickets are $10 each. The other raffle is for a Hentry .22 lever action H001; tickets are $5 for one ticket or $20 for six tickets. The event is open to all kids and adults, not just Mark Twain students and families. For more information call the school at 417-785-4323.


Mountain Home (Arkansas) Parks and Recreation Trunk-or-Treat, Saturday

The ninth annual trunk-or-treat, hosted by Mountain Home Parks and Recreation, will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at the L.C. Sammons Youth Center at Cooper Park in Mountain Home. The event includes a haunted trail, trunk-or-treat, costume contest, pumpkin carving, hayrides and a campfire. All activities are free. Hotdogs are also being provided by Bear State Bank. For more information, call the L.C. Sammons Youth Center at 870-424-7275 or visit 


Nixa Chili Cook-off and Fall Fest

The Nixa chili cook-off and fall fest, including a craft festival, will be held from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday. The big cook-off will run from noon to 7 p.m. A concert featuring Splinter Middleton is scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m., and a beer garden will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children.


Oak Grove Church Family Day Hay Ride & BBQ, Wasola, Saturday

Oak Grove Church will host a family day featuring hay rides and a BBQ beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21. Hamburgers and hotdogs will be available, along with games and other fun. The church is located about 15 miles north of Gainesville on Highway 5. Everyone is invited to join in on the fun. For more information, call Mike Vlad at 720-205-0790.


Persimmon Days, Sparta, Friday through Sunday

This annual festival has been held in Sparta for nearly 20 years. This year’s festival will be held Oct. 20-22 on Route 14, the main highway running through Sparta. It features a BBQ cook-off, a car show, a parade and more. For more information search for “Annual Sparta Persimmon Days-Official Event Page 2016” on Facebook or call Melvin Smith at 417-838-2232 or Andrea Smith at 417-839-1488.


Pets and Pumpkins, Springfield, Saturday

 This year marks the 10th anniversary of the annual Pets and Pumpkins event, described as a “a fall festival for kids and pets” on historical Commercial Street in Springfield.  The event, which runs from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, features trick-or-treating for both human and furry little ones, a hay maze, games, food, music and more. The parade, which begins with costumed pets and people lining up at 1:15 p.m. in from of Big Momma’s Coffee and Espresso Bar on Commercial Street, is one of the largest costume parades in Missouri. An admission wristband costs $2 per person and includes all the activities at no additional cost. Those just watching the parade do not need to pay for an admission wristband. All money raised from the event is donated to local non-profit children and animal organizations. 


Wild West Days, Fordland, Saturday

 This event will make you feel like you’ve taken a step into the past, boots and all. Wild West Days, scheduled for this Saturday in Fordland, features Old West fun for all ages including the opportunity for children to be deputized, chow down on western grub, visit old-fashioned vendors, play old-time games and enjoy a parade through history that begins with Native Americas and ends with Model Ts and Model As. Kids can pan for gold, try their hand at Levi’s lasso, perfect their aim with the Santa Fe sling shot and more. Entertain-ment comes in many forms, including Neal Torrey, famed for his Appaloosa horses; Jeremy Myers, who plays grassroots jams  reminiscent of living-room jam sessions of the past and Ozark front porch storytelling; certified journeyman farrier Randy Cate; Model T and Model A clubs; Tonya Hum-mingbird, a storyteller focused on young listeners; Janet Caudillo, who demonstrates hand spinning materials; and Earnie Smith, a singer and performer. 


Ongoing events

Apple picking at Sunshine Valley Farm, Rogersville

Have you dreamed of picking your own apples straight from the tree on a crisp, fall morning? If so, here’s your chance. Sunshine Valley Farm offers pick-your-own apple sessions most Saturday mornings from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Guests can also buy freshly grown and picked produce from the farm including apples, Asian pears, tomatoes and other assorted items from the farm stand from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Apple varieties currently available include  Enterprise, Jonagold, Jonathan, Honey Crisp, Empire, Liberty, Mutsu, Show Me Gold, Blushing Gold, Cameo, Red Delicious, September Wonder Fuji and Ozark Gold. Those planning to pick their own apples should bring sunscreen and bug spray. Sunshine Valley Farm will provide apple pickers with a bag to purchase your apples in, water to drink and, of course, the fruit. Morning dew may make for wet feet, so proper footwear can make the experience more enjoyable. For more information and directions to the farm, visit, search “Sunshine Valley Farm” on Facebook or email Call or visit the Facebook page to ensure the orchard is offering pick-your-own apples if that’s in your plans. 


Haunted Hollow Nightmares, Ava

Haunted Hollow Nightmares is held every Saturday in October from dark until 11 p.m. in Ava. This spooky venture takes thrill-seekers down a darkened path in the woods where spooky characters come out at night. The walk takes about 15 minutes. Admission is $10 per person, with all proceeds being donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in honor of Ethan Hutchinson, an Ava teen who died in an accidental fall in 2010. For more information and directions to the Haunted Hollow Nightmares, search Facebook or call 417-683-3471.


Purgatory Haunted House, Mansfield

This spooky haunted house in Mansfield has been running for six years now. This year’s Purgatory is scheduled to be open from dark through 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 20-21, and next Friday and Saturday, Oct. 27-28. Admission is $8 for those over age 6. Organizers say this thrill isn’t for the faint of heart, and they recommend that children ages 6 and younger skip the haunted house and enjoy the campfire and kids play area that is offered at no extra cost. Those attending should wear closed-toed shoes or sneakers. Groups are limited to five or fewer people. All proceeds from the haunted house are reinvested back into  next year’s attraction. All workers are volunteers. For more information and directions, visit or search for “Purgatory” on Facebook. 


Sycamore Creek Family Ranch, Branson

Sycamore Creek Family Ranch is hosting its  Fall Roundup every Sunday in October from 1 p.m. until sunset. The ranch website says, “We don’t do ‘evil, spooky, scary’ and don’t clutter our wide open spaces with carnival-style atmosphere.” Instead, the ranch focuses on inviting guests to have fun in the fresh air and natural beauty of the 270-acre property, which features more than a mile of Lake Tanycomo shoreline. Activities include hayrides, pick-your-own pumpkin patch, a 1-acre corn maze, frisbee golf, a hay bale fort, hiking, gunny sack slide, live music, a bonfire with s’mores kits available for purchase, face painting, farm animals, old-fashioned games, a corn bin, bubble station, photo ops and lots of space for kids to run free. Concessions and fall decor are also available for purchase. A scavenger hunt challenge is held each week, and groups compete against one another with the winning team getting a prize s’mores kit to roast by the fire. Admission is free for children age 2 and younger, $5 for children age 3 to 12 and $8 for ages 12 to adult. Active duty military members who present their ID receive $2 off admission. For more information visit www.sycamorecreekfamily, search for “Sycamore Creek Family Ranch” on Facebook or call 417-593-9628. 

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423