Though the 30th Ozark Ham & Turkey Celebration looked a bit different than during typical years due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, a more localized iteration seemed to go off without a hitch.
The California Area Chamber of Commerce made the decision to cancel the usual Ham & Turkey Festival, which brings thousands of out-of-town visitors to California, earlier this year, citing concerns for spreading COVID-19 further in the community and beyond. In its place, a celebration still brought several hallmarks of the festival — the "Anything Goes" parade, still sponsored by the Chamber, a car show, vendors scattered along Oak Street and across town — while keeping the crowds less sizable, due in part to the events taking place around town being hosted by businesses and other entities individually.
"I think it appeared to have went well," Chamber executive secretary Sandra Ratcliff said. "I drove through town, and the car show looked like it had quite a bit of participation. Village Green was busy at the time I was there."
Ratcliff said the parade had about a third of its usual participation based on the number of entries the Chamber received, a larger amount than anticipated when planning it.
"We didn't expect it to be as large. We were hoping it'd kind of stay local, and that seems to be what it did," Ratcliff said.
Ratcliff said the uptown district on Oak Street was the busiest during the day, headlined by the first edition of the Oak Street Business District's Oaktoberfest.
As far as the festival itself being canceled goes, Ratcliff said she received plenty of calls from people out of town who'd expressed interest in participating in the traditional 5K, BBQ contest and car show events.
"Those three areas seemed to be of the most interest to people, and they of course were sorry to hear that it was canceled, but most of them indicated they understood and said they would be back again next year. I tried to impress upon them that we're going to do everything we can to make that happen," Ratcliff said.
Ratcliff said she was glad the community was able to get out and enjoy themselves during the day, and hopes that circumstances next year allow for the traditional festival to get back to business as usual in its 31st edition.