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The California Area Chamber of Commerce has officially absorbed an event left out of the 2021 Moniteau County Fair — the Miss Moniteau County Queen Contest.

The event will now take place during the Ozark Ham & Turkey Festival Sept. 18, along with future editions of the festival. The Moniteau County Fair Board will handle paying scholarships to the winners of this year's contest, but in future editions the Chamber will shoulder that load.

The contest would not have continued had the Chamber not taken it on, members learned at last Thursday's board meeting.

"If we had not taken this on, the (contest) would've been done," Chamber board secretary Rita Hammerly said last week. "So we saved the queen, the county queen. I think it's a nice fit having it with the Ham & Turkey Festival, bringing it back to the courthouse. Years ago, it was always at the courthouseand it was a big event here in town, so it's kind of bringing this event back. I think we've got a good group of ladies that are going to committee this, and it'll be a nice event."

The event does indeed return to the courthouse square, with elements of the contest taking place throughout. Interviews are tentatively set for 11 a.m. at Sweet Chipotle, speeches and talents are tentatively set for 2 p.m. at the north stage, and evening wear and on-stage questions are tentatively set for 3:30 p.m. on the courthouse steps, followed immediately by crowning.

The Chamber approved all of the regulations presented to board members Thursday, which seem to fall in line with the usual set of rules and expectations for participants. A total of $1,200 in scholarships will be awarded to winners this year, with $500 going to the Moniteau County Queen, $400 to the first runner-up and $300 to the second runner-up.

The 2021 Miss Moniteau County Queen will be obligated to represent Moniteau County at a trio of 2022 events — next year's Ozark Ham & Turkey Festival and Moniteau County Fair, and the 2022 Missouri State Fair Queen Contest. Optional duties include appearances in Moniteau County-area parades.

Entries are to be submitted no later than Sept. 3, and can be mailed to Maria Birdsong at 78 California Dr., Clarksburg, MO 65025 or emailed to [email protected] Those with any further questions can contact Birdsong via email or call 660-483-0573.

Board members also discussed other updates regarding the approaching Ham & Turkey Festival at last week's meeting. Chamber Executive Secretary Sandra Ratcliff said she thought planning was coming along well, though notification of participation from vendors and others isn't coming in as it does in a typical year. Ratcliff said this was likely due to concerns about COVID-19 holding back the final decision for some.

"I know there are several vendors who said they'll be here if they can be, but they're not sending anything in, so I know that's holding back quite a few vendors," Ratcliff said last week.

The Chamber's Christmas California Style committee will begin meeting regularly in early September, as holiday events quickly approach. The Chamber's request to host Christmas in Proctor Park was once again approved by the California Board of Aldermen at their August meeting.

The group also discussed its annual meeting and dinner; committee members are to begin making plans for a venue and caterer in short order.

Finally, the group discussed the upcoming "whistle stop" for the 4014 Big Boy steam engine, which will stop in California at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31. The Chamber plans to set up a welcome table at the event, during which the city of California will potentially see a large number of visitors from outside the community.

The California Area Chamber of Commerce's next regular monthly meeting is set for Thursday, Sept. 9 at 8 a.m.

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