The festival season has begun with the great homage to Route 66. The Mountain Grove Heritage Festival was two days of well-coordinated music and fun. Baker Creek just had their August Festival, and the Heart of the Ozarks Bluegrass Pulled Pork Picking Camp and Jam is coming up in a couple of weeks in West Plains. The HOBA Festival will occur toward the end of September. Then the Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks will happen in early October over at the Fox Trotters grounds. We live in a beautiful, diverse part of the world with lovely landscapes, and good-hearted, honest, hardworking citizens with lots of history. Lucky us.

Miss B. Denlow’s great grandmother, lovely Ilene Woods, won first place in the hand-quilted division of the quilt show during the Mountain Grove Heritage Festival. They are a talented family, including a celebrated stilt walker, who celebrated his birthday Sunday. Sharon Sanders’ birthday slipped by last week. She says that The Douglas County Museum Open House will be August 20, 10-2. They will be drawing the winner of the book “Douglas County Missouri History and Families 1857-1995,” a much sought-after hardcover limited edition. Get your tickets at the museum on Saturday. They have a great t-shirt that shows the Douglas County Mail Routes in 1915.

Bud Watkins was observed Friday and Saturday to be manicuring the grounds and garden areas of our Skyline School getting ready for school to start on the 22nd. He does a beautiful job. Skyline student, Caleb Harden, had his name misspelled in The Champion News last week as birthdays were being acknowledged. Harden, not Haden. His Skyline school mates, Hoyt Webster and Kaydi Ambroziac, have August 19th and 20th for their birthdays. Skyline alumnus, Tanna Jo Krider Wiseman, will celebrate on the 22nd and her nephews Drason Cline and Dakota Watts will have the 23rd and 24th for their big days. A favorite nephew who spent time cooking pineapple upside down cakes in Champion back in the 1970s has his birthday on the 24th. He comes back to visit frequently and is always a welcome guest. He is a grandfather now—used to be just a handsome teenager—still handsome—still a good cook.

Larry Warren wandered over to Champion from Wasola again Wednesday to hob-nob with friends and to pat his foot to some of the old tunes plucked and strummed out on the porch. He brought Doyle Utchman with him. They are both great storytellers. They join the ranks of the local rank raconteurs, which include The General, the Ferrier, and the Prominent Champion. Jim Brown is a likely candidate for that august body. Ask him about his chickens if you have twenty minutes to spare. He and Kathy have migrated south from among the northern tribes to be neighbors to Alvin and Beverly Barnhart. “We’ll sing of the old, and we’ll sing of the new. We’ll sing of the changes in years. I can’t tell a lie. Last night I had pie for the first time in twenty four years.” There is another old song suitable for the occasion.

An auspicious occasion had Kaitlyn McConnell of “Ozarks Alive!” visiting the Vanzant Jam on Thursday. She has visited Champion on many occasions and was the winner of the “Instead Of The Skyline VFD Picnic Quilt” back at the beginning of the pandemic. She was in Vanzant in the company of Mike O’Brian, an avid appreciator of The Champion News, and frequent traveling companion with Kaitlyn. The General suggested that her journalism is routinely based on fact, unlike this column in which he is often the subject of mild mockery. “Where do cowgirls go when they die?” Kaitlyn was prompted to ask her new friend. Her response to his sentimental musical soliloquy on “Reincarnation” proved her to be a convivial good sport as well as a wonderful writer. She has met Glen Branstetter now, so there is a treasure trove of stories awaiting her exploration. She is currently compiling her second volume of “Passport to the Ozarks,” where she shines a light on our many hidden corners. Champion will be featured in the next edition—Looking on the Bright Side!

Kaitlyn and The General