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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Kaden QuinnCalifornia High School’s marching band, directed by Jacob Small, earned the Best Band/Drill Team award at this year’s “Anything Goes” parade.

The Ozark Ham & Turkey Festival made its return Saturday after a year away for its 31st edition, and the California Area Chamber of Commerce has reported a positive reception.

The festival took place throughout the day Saturday, during which events both old and new brought many a visitor to the streets of California.

Chamber Executive Secretary Sandra Ratcliff said Monday that feedback following Saturday's events was overall positive. Ratcliff reported good attendance during the festival, perhaps resulting in a larger crowd than the Chamber might have anticipated, and said vendors seemed happy with the turnout.

A staple event — the car show — saw a change compared to the last full festival in 2019, as it returned to the Moniteau County Fairgrounds. Ratcliff said it seemed to be well-received.

"The car show went over really well," Ratcliff said. "Tyler (Clenin) did a really good job with it, and as far as I know now, that event went really well, too."

A pair of new events also seemed to draw good participation and crowds — the Miss Curley and Mr. Gobbler Pageant and the Miss Moniteau County Queen contest. The former, a children's pageant, had around 15 participants. The Queen contest, meanwhile, only had three contestants, but Ratcliff said it drew a "nice crowd" of observers. Ratcliff mentioned finding more participants as one goal for future editions.

"Moving forward with that, I think it's probably something to work harder at, getting young women to participate," Ratcliff said.

Ratcliff said this could mean changing the strategy for approaching young women throughout the county who are eligible to participate, or maybe tweaking the contest itself and simplifying it so it isn't quite as involved. Ratcliff said despite any challenges ahead, the Chamber will work hard to keep it going for years to come.


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