Downtown Hollister will see musicians, crafters, artists, dancers, historians, cosplayers, food and more on Saturday, Sept. 18, as the 5th Annual State of the Ozarks Fest returns. 

State of the Ozarks Fest is a one-day celebration, hosted by State of the Ozarks Magazine, bringing the community together in a heightened street fair filled to the brim with food, art, craftsmanship, and uproarious fun, all tied to the history and culture of our land, according to the State of the Ozarks website. 

State of the Ozarks Editor-in-Chief Joshua Heston said he’s glad to be able to continue to bring people together to celebrate the unique arts, music, and people of the Ozarks.

“SOTO Fest is the annual celebration the State of the Ozarks hosts in Hollister. Our goal is to preserve and celebrate Ozark history and culture. It is also a celebration of our community,” Heston said. “It’s an extremely varied festival.”

The event is free to the public and will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. along Downing Street in Hollister. 

This year the festival will feature traditional craftsmen, contemporary artists, Ozarks history, local food, Ozark Mountain music, modern dance, cosplay, and European combat.

“We currently have the Order of the Red Boar, Branson Karate, Premiere Dance Academy, Queen City Beard & Mustache Federation (competition), Luke Acker, the Wrights, Tom Lovato Band, Russ and Diskey the Wonder Dog, Independent Fighting Systems and Ozark Mountain Music Association scheduled to perform,” Heston said. 

Heston explained, to him, the heart of the festival is to share the history of the Ozarks, but it also allows members of the community to share their stories and talents with others.  

“It is very important for us to share the history of the area not only with visitors to the Ozarks but with those who make their home here. This area is so rich in a unique perspective and history,” Heston said. “SOTO Fest also gives our local artists, craftsmen and performers a place to express themselves.”

SOTO Fest hosts several groups and individuals who will be dressed up in historical costumes, cosplay, or unique garb. Attendees are also invited to don their very own costumes at the festival.

“For a lot of people, being in cosplay, period clothing and reenactment clothing allows them to feel like their most authentic selves. It is a unique aspect of our festival. We encourage anyone who shows up to be dressed in costume. It brings a fun dynamic to our street festival, which everyone can enjoy.”

According to the SOTO website, SOTO was established in 2007 and began as an online publication to celebrate the Ozark culture. It has grown to help foster creativity within the community, and build relationships among the people of the Ozarks. It encourages an authentic community, which it believes is the heart and soul of the Ozarks people. SOTO offers a membership for those who wish to join the community. The membership provides spaces that foster relationships, share creativity, and strengthen the economy. 

SOTO hosts several area events throughout the year including the Hollister Farmers Market, First Friday Art Walk in downtown Hollister, Writers Artist Night and the SOTO Fest. 

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