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story.lead_photo.caption One half of the Ozark Ham & Turkey Celebration's namesake, Burgers' Smokehouse, tows a carefully disguised hay bale past a crowd of onlookers. Photo by Austin Hornbostel / California Democrat.

The California Area Chamber of Commerce met for a board meeting Thursday, detailing the ongoing planning process for this year's Ozark Ham & Turkey Festival.

The Chamber's festival committee met May 3, and committee members explained at the Chamber meeting they are trying to reboot and refresh some old events.

Firstly, the committee plans to bring in an outside company to run the festival's walk/5K; the company will time the event and, hopefully, bring in more participants from outside the community. These services will cost the Chamber $1,500 plus the cost of mileage from Columbia for the company to be onsite. The event will remain on its usual certified course, starting and ending at Village Green Shopping Center.

The car show, slated to appear on the Moniteau County Fairgrounds this year, is starting to accumulate sponsorships across three tiers — bronze, silver and gold. Tyler Clenin, a member of the committee for the event, said he plans to give California businesses another week or so to claim sponsorships before opening up eligibility to businesses around the Mid-Missouri area. As requested by those who plan to participate in the car show, awards for winners will be in the form of Chamber bucks, with big-ticket prizes for the grand prize winners yet to be decided.

One big change this year will be similar to one of the element's of last year's scaled-down Ham & Turkey Celebration, which took the place of the usual festival due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chamber voted to forego producing T-shirts and a logo, instead agreeing that area vendors can produce and sell their own shirts and logos for the festival.

As of Thursday's meeting, Chamber executive secretary Sandra Ratcliff said there were 23 vendors signed on for the festival, and another 11 or 12 that have contacted the office about participating.

The festival committee's next meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. June 7.

Other business included discussing an update to the Chamber's bylaws; the current bylaws haven't been revised for 15 years, so the board agreed to review the present document and make some recommendations for changes, to be voted on at next January's annual meeting. In the meantime, an outside party will also take a look at the bylaws and offer any suggestions deemed necessary.

"I think this would be a good New Year's resolution for us to take a look at these bylaws," board member Rita Hammerly said.

In line with the decision, the board agreed not to nominate any other new board members for the rest of the year. The Chamber's board currently has more than 25 members.

Other business discussed included the Chamber's scholarship awards for this year. Seven awards, each for $500, were given to graduating students at California High School's scholarship awards night Thursday evening.

Planning for the Chamber's annual golf tournament was also discussed. As of last Monday, 14 teams were signed on to participate, and the Chamber had 28 commitments for hole sponsorships. Last year's tournament ultimately had 26 teams participate. The Chamber continues to accept teams and hole sponsorships for the event.

The group also discussed possible avenues for grant funding. In the past week, members had learned of a pair of opportunities for funding, one federal and the other through the state's tourism department, but ultimately decided that any grant work will have to wait until next year since some deadlines for this year's funding have already passed.

Finally, the group discussed hosting a ribbon cutting Saturday for new California barbecue restaurant Southern Smoke BBQ.

The California Area Chamber of Commerce's next regular board meeting is set for 8 a.m. June 10.

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