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story.lead_photo.caption The traditional pig and turkey critters promoted the Ozark Ham and Turkey Festival Sept. 16, 2017. Photo by David Wilson / California Democrat.

The California Area Chamber of Commerce met last Thursday for the last time before Saturday's Ozark Ham & Turkey Festival.

Last-minute details were more or less finalized as of last week's meeting, a week out from the festival.

Chamber Executive Secretary Sandra Ratcliff informed board members that there were 62 vendors signed on as of Thursday morning. As for a pair of new festival events, the Moniteau County Queen contest and the Miss Curly and Mr. Gobbler Pageant, participation looked to be satisfactory. There had been "quite a few" registrations for the children's pageant as of last week, festival committee members noted, as well as four entries for the queen contest.

Events are set to take place throughout the day this Saturday.

Other business discussed at last week's meeting included some planning ahead for other Chamber events beyond this weekend's festival. Planning has already begun in earnest for Christmas California Style, which already has a parade theme — "A Christmas Story." To help with accounting for the growth of one Christmas-related Chamber event, the Christmas in Proctor Park displays, the board approved creating a fund specifically for any related expenses, starting with $1,000 taken from the Chamber's Ozark Ham & Turkey Festival fund.

Other elements of the upcoming Christmas celebrations noted at last week's meeting included dates for when decorations at Proctor Park should be installed and taken down — the day after Thanksgiving is the first day decorations can go up, while Jan. 8 is the cut-off for when they should be taken down. Board members also discussed the possibility of implementing a drive-thru experience at the park for children to see Santa Claus after the parade, taking into account the landscape of active COVID cases in the community at that time.

The group also decided that a decision should be made regarding venue and menu options for the Chamber's annual dinner meeting at the committee's next meeting, set for Oct. 4.

Other business discussed Thursday included increasing the budget for fall decorations at the California welcome sign from $750 to $1,000 and opting to cash out on a $5,439.62 CD account at People's Bank of Moniteau County instead of renewing for another year.

In the past month, the Chamber has welcomed two new members — West Ridge Events Center and Main Street Bridal Shop, both located in Centertown.

The Chamber's next regular monthly meeting is set for Thursday, Oct. 14 at 8 a.m.

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