DEMONSTRATING OLD-FASHIONED WAYS - More than a dozen demonstrators are scheduled for this year’s festival, Sept. 21-23
Hootin an Hollarin committee chairwoman Paula Rose told the Times that when the committee started planning this year’s event, they chose to really focus on increasing one of the most authentic pioneer-era elements of the whole festival, the old-fashioned demonstrations.
The suggestion to increase the number of old-time demonstrators and crafters is made after every festival, as dedicated Hootin an Hollarin attendees reminisce about the early festivals when dozens of volunteers and old-fashioned demonstrators sprawled across the courthouse lawn and around the square, showcasing the traditional ways of making a variety of things - cedar shake shingles, lye soap, hominy and more.
The festival has now been held for more than 60 years, and it has become harder and harder to find people to volunteer for the demonstrations. Part of the issue is that many of the local “old-timers” who knew the traditional ways of doing things have since died or are now aging and unable to meet the physical demands of the job. There are still people out there who know the traditional arts and crafts, organizers say, but many are not local to Ozark County and would have to travel to attend the festival. Add to the equation that the demonstrator jobs are unpaid and require many hours of time in sometimes very hot and uninviting weather, it’s not always easy to find volunteers for the jobs.
Despite the challenges, it’s clear that those attending the festival - and those organizing it - love the old fashioned demonstrators. So, the festival committee has dedicated extra effort in the last several years to seek out more demonstrators, and they’ve been very successful. This year’s festival will build on that success, offering even more demonstrations. Rose and booth organizer Barbara Luna were especially dedicated to the effort to recruit more old-time demonstrators, working all year to bring new ones to the 2023 festival.
Rose said she attended other festivals in the area and places where demonstrators were showcasing traditional crafts and skills and picked up business cards. Luna then called the demonstrators and invited them to attend this year’s Hootin an Hollarin festival as a volunteer demonstrator. Other Hootin an Hollarin committee members also took Hootin an Hollarin business cards to festivals they attended with contact information for Luna and Rose, inviting them to call if they were interested in being a demonstrator here.
The hard work paid off, and four new demonstrators were added to the list increasing the demonstrators to more than a dozen spread across the square and courthouse lawn.
Those attending this year’s festival, Sept. 21-23, can look forward to these traditional skills and crafts being demonstrated:
• Moonshine making: Missouri’s moonshine industry began in the early 1800s when settlers from other states brought their stills with them. Terry Wyatt of Eminence will be at this year’s festival demonstrating the art of making the high-proof liquor in his authentic copper moonshine still. There will be no taste-testing or alcohol sold at the festival. Instead, this fun addition is aimed at giving festival attendees a look at another part of the Ozarks history.
• Lye soap making: Cathy Wyatt, wife of moonshine still operator Terry Wyatt, also of Eminence, will be bringing her own skills to Hootin an Hollarin, offering those attending a look at how to make authentic traditional lye soap in a large cast iron kettle over a wood fire. She will also be selling homemade lye soap. The pioneer-era process involves pouring water over ashes and using the water that seeps out, boiled with tallow, to make a mixture that is poured into a mold and left to cure.
• Rag rugs on twining loom: Tiffany Hopper of Aunt Tiffy’s Twined Rag Rugs is joining Hootin an Hollarin this year as a demonstrator of rag rug making on an old twining loom. The booth will have several rag rugs and other loom-twined items available for purchase.
• Pioneer fly tying: (Friday only) Sam Stewart with the Missouri Department of Conservation will be at the festival this year demonstrating the pioneer method of tying flies for fishing.
• Corn broom-making: Darrell Wolf of Wolf’s Broom Shop of Squires will be at the festival demonstrating the traditional art of corn broom making. He will also have a variety of his handmade corn brooms for sale at his booth.
• Homemade bread and apple butter making (with free samples!): Carol Latham of Gainesville will be demonstrating the art of homemade bread and homemade apple butter baking at her booth. She’ll be giving away free samples, so make sure you stop in for the delicious treat. Carol will also be selling a variety of bread mixes for those who want to try to make their own homemade bread at home.
• Ragdoll making: (Saturday only) This year Jane Yount will be heading up the handmade ragdoll-making booth, demonstrating the old art of making a child’s toy from quilt scraps. Those coming by can make their own ragdoll at the booth or take home a free kit with instructions to make ragdolls at home.
• Flint-knapping: Bobby Walker of Dora, owner of Devil’s Backbone Knives, and others will be at Hootin an Hollarin demonstrating the art of flint knapping, a traditional way of making tools, weapons and other items by shaping flint or other stones through fracturing it by striking it with another object. The knapping will be located in an area next to the Devil’s Backbone Knives booth where Walker will have a variety of custom knives available for sale.
• Rope making: Lynn and Charlotte Taylor will be demonstrating the traditional art of rope making at the festival. The booth will be interactive at times, allowing kids who are watching to take part in the action.
• Primitive flint-lock rifles: Kevin Smith, dressed in his “mountain man” attire, will be at Hootin an Hollarin showcasing flint-lock rifle building and primitive weaponry, along with a variety of furs and other primitive items on display.
• Basket weaving: (Thursday and Saturday only) Michelle Werther of Protem, with help from Roxann Wallace and Sis Green, will be at the festival demonstrating the art of basket weaving. She will also have a variety of handmade baskets available at the festival for sale.
• Handquilting, knitting, crocheting, spinning and more: A variety of volunteers will be demonstrating various fabric arts at the booth next to the main stage throughout the festival. Stop by and see what traditional art is being demonstrated while you are at the festival.
• Treadle sewing machine and hand-quilting - The Ozark County Historium, located on the west side of the Gainesville square, will have demonstrators inside its air conditioned space demonstrating the art of using a treadle sewing machine and others will demonstrate hand-quilting techniques.
Do you want to be a demonstrator?
Are you a traditional or pioneer-era artist or crafter and are willing to donate your time at next year’s festival? Do you know someone who is? The committee is always looking for additional demonstrators.
Although demonstrators are not paid, those who choose to volunteer their time to demonstrate their craft will have the fee waived to have a booth at the festival where they will be able to sell items and keep 100 percent of the profits.
To inquire about becoming a demonstrator at a future festival, contact booth coordinator Barbara Luna at 417-712-1946 or Paula Rose at 417-989-1282.
Festival guide is published Sept. 13
The Times will publish its annual festival guide to Hootin an Hollarin on Wednesday, Sept. 13. The guide will be inserted into all of the Ozark County Times newspapers that week and will also be available for pick up for free at the festival and other locations in the area.