Hootin an Hollarin Fest

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Hootin an Hollarin is 53 years old.

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Each year for the past 53 years, the city of Gainesville has roped off the square and thrown one wing-ding of a homecoming party.

Hootin an Hollarin was first organized to preserve the traditions, crafts, and lore of the early days of the Ozarks. A group of citizens organized the event, complete with “Cedar Pete”, a pipe smoking hillbilly caricature that has been used as a symbol of Hootin an Hollarin since the beginning. In fact, Cedar Pete now has a whole family – Mrs. Pete and a group of “younguns”, maybe even a cousin or two.

The festival, beginning each year on the third Thursday in September, gets under way with a queen’s pageant on the opening night. Contestants, dressed in their best country dresses, delight the crowd with stories of of how things used to be. They are judged on personality, appearance, and poise. Judges select the queen, deputy queen and princesses. The contestants select Miss Sweetie Pie. These girls, the queen and her court, participate in various events throughout the following year and have the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of attractions and entertainment as part of their prize package.

H & H court 2012

H & H court 2012

Hootin an Hollarin is, more than anything else, a homecoming. Natives of Ozark County come from far and wide to see old friends and family and visit during this reunion of all reunions. A true opportunity that brings older generations and younger generations together for three days of clean, homespun fun and visitin’!

But it’s not just for home folks and their kin. Everybody is welcome to join in the celebration. Music and dance performance entertain the visitors and the contests of all kinds – bed races and outhouse races, a pet contest, a pie contest, hog and husband calling contest, just to name a few.

For the more serious and skilled contestants, there are horseshoe pitching and a turkey shoot that tests firearms and archery skills.

There’s old-fashioned “brush arbor” gospel singing in the gazebo, open to anyone that wants to participate, and old time games for the kids; like marble shooting and stick-horse racing.

Hootin an Hollarin visitors can shop at a multitude of craft vendors around the square, offering crafts of every description: needlecrafts and woodworking, painting and pottery, leatherwork and loomcrafts. The list goes on and on. And when they’re hungry, there are all kinds of food choices, ranging from lemonade and ice cream to hamburgers and hotdogs, beans and cornbread and funnel cakes.

Each evening ends with three hours of dancing to the traditional mountain tunes played by an Ozarks fiddler and band. The major event is the “Big Parade” on Saturday afternoon. This year will mark the 52nd year, and organizers say this will be the celebration to end all celebrations. The art of fine quilting is on display at the Annual Quilt Show—old and new quilts that bring back great memories.