86th Ozark Empire Fair kicks off this week

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The 86th Ozark Empire Fair is slated to kick off this Thursday in Springfield at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds.

The fair was initially held in 1937 and called the “Ozark Empire District Free Fair,” featuring vaudeville and circus acts. Attendees also enjoyed horse, motorcycle and car races, stunt shows, live music, craftworkers, livestock, agriculture exhibits and a few rides.

With that said, things have not changed much since yesterday’s fair. 

This year’s theme is “World of Wonder” to represent the hardships and unexpected events that society has dealt with in recent times.

“Things are closer to normal than they have been since 2019,” Ozark Empire Fairgrounds General Manager Aaron Owen told the Springfield News-Leader. “People seem to be getting out more and we’ve got a great lineup for grandstand entertainment. We have a lot more vendors back out with their booths for shopping. The fair is the largest community celebration in the Ozarks, and we’re just excited to put on a big one.”

Carnival Midway features attractions for everyone in the family, and will be selling on-site wristbands Monday through Thursday for $30, and Friday through Sunday for $35. According to the fair website, wristbands allow access on all rides and are not intended for children under 36 inches tall. 

The east hall of the E*Plex will host live demonstrations from local artists and art contests, along with selling food. Monday, Aug. 1 is “$3 day” at the fair, offering admission, all rides, parking and several food items for just $3 each. 

The current schedule of events is below:

  • Lou Gramm, lead singer of Foreigner, on July 28 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Vanilla Ice and the Ying Yang Twins on July 29 at 7:30 p.m.
  • O’Reilly Outlaw Monster Truck Show on July 30 at 7 p.m.
  • TobyMac on July 31 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Read Southall Band with Noah Guthrie on August 2 at 7:30 p.m.
  • O’Reilly Night of Destruction – Demolition Derby featuring figure-8 racing and combine derby on August 4 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Hardee’s Extreme Freestyle Bullfighting on August 5 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Pulling for the Kids Truck and Tractor Pull on August 6 at 6 p.m.

Free events and shows throughout the fair include:

  • Knights of Valour, a 45-minute show including medieval weaponry, birds of prey, sword fighting and armor.
  • Scott’s World of Magic Show.
  • Bandaloni.
  • Hedrick’s Exotic Petting Zoo.
  • Prehistoric Dinosaur Adventures featuring a dino dig pit and games.

The Ozark Empire Fair opens Thursday at 4 p.m. and will run through Saturday, Aug. 6 at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds and Event Center located at 3001 North Grant Ave. Other than opening day, the fair will be open each day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Carnival Midway will be open each day from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. for rides and carnival games. 

Children under 2 are free of charge. To purchase tickets to the 86th Ozark Empire Fair, visit the website here.

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