West Plains, Missouri in direct path of total solar eclipse, to host massive four-day party

WEST PLAINS, Mo. – Look no further for the perfect place to celebrate the total solar eclipse on April 8. The city of West Plains sits in the path of complete totality, and has you covered with a four-day party full of family-friendly events and festivities.

Things kick off with self-guided mural, art gallery and historical tours throughout the city on Friday, April 5. Legendary bands .38 Special and Ozark Mountain Daredevils will rock the stage at the West Plains Civic Center beginning at 7 p.m. 

Saturday’s festivities begin with a 5k run at Galloway Creek Nature Park, followed by a youth baseball tournament, food trucks, Sunshine Festival, a cosmic carnival, neon parade and much more.

Events will run the entire weekend until the total eclipse on Monday at 1:54 p.m. Various groups and community businesses also will be hosting their own parties across the city. 

Sponsorships for the event are still available and volunteers are still needed. For more information and a full schedule of events, visit the Explore West Plains website

What is a solar eclipse, anyway?

According to NASA, for a total solar eclipse to take place the sun, moon and earth must line up directly in correlation with each other. The center of the moon’s shadow falls on anyone witnessing the total eclipse on Earth. As the sky turns to twilight, viewers may catch a glimpse of the sun’s corona, the sun’s outer atmosphere, if the weather permits.

The only solar eclipse where people can watch without special eclipse glasses is a total solar eclipse. Viewers must wait until the sun is completely blocked by the moon before removing their eclipse glasses.

Visitors are advised by the city of West Plains to arrive at their destination at least two hours before totality. The estimated duration of the event is 2.5 hours.

“Anyone you talk to, they’ve got people coming in,” West Plains Tourism Manager Melissa Wharton told The Heartlander. “That will be a huge boost to our economy. We are going to try to accommodate everyone. People think a partial eclipse is just as good as a total eclipse. Apparently it’s not. I’ve not seen a total eclipse. I did not travel in 2017. I was like, ‘I don’t understand why people are freaking out about this and driving north.’ Apparently it’s a big deal and is life-changing. I’d love for everyone to come to West Plains and experience what we have here to offer.”

The Heartlander reached out to the Ozark Mountain Daredevils and spoke with tour manager Dwight Glenn about the Daredevils’ last tour and the total eclipse party.

“We’re doing a two-year tour, finishing up in November 2025. The ‘When It Shines Tour’ is something we’ve been working on for about six to nine months,” Glenn said. “Myself and the two original founding members that are still with the band, (Michael) ‘Supe’ Granda and John Dillon, met two or three times and decided there has to be an end game. The hourglass eventually runs out on every single one of us. We wanted to take the opportunity while the band is really good. 

“This is a celebration of 52 and 53 years of a band that’s been able to make their living doing something they love to do. Rather than us doing some random show in the next two years and just being gone, we wanted our fans to have the knowledge that maybe this year or next year it might be the last time we’re in your town.”

Glenn says this is not a farewell to the band, but a happy farewell to touring while the members are still in good health. The band is set to keep recording and will drop an album of remastered long-lost tracks in 2024.

“This is not an obituary by any means. We’re a grateful bunch of men and women, to get to do something that not many people get to do. We’re excited to play West Plains. We played down there as part of our 40th anniversary tour back in 2012. We had a good reception. From the looks of it, tickets seem to be selling really well, and the eclipse is just cool. 

“To think that West Plains is going to be one of those places where you can get the full experience, we’re thrilled to come down there and play. Who is to say we won’t come back and do something again next year? We’ve got more opportunities.”

The Ozark Mountain Daredevils launched their illustrious career in Springfield, Missouri in 1971, only a two-hour drive away from West Plains. The band signed its first record deal with A&M Records, which would later put it on the map among the world’s most well-known music groups.

Tickets for the .38 Special and Ozark Mountain Daredevils show can be purchased through Ticketmaster here

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