The 18th Annual Show Me Gourd Festival takes place from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. April 9 and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. April 10 at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds, 3001 N. Grant Ave. Workshops are also scheduled to take place on April 8.
The festival will feature amateur and professional artists competing, showcasing and selling their work. Sales of raw gourds and art supplies, displays, demonstrations, a “make and take” area for kids and more are planned, including a live auction at noon April 9.
Admission is $5 for a weekend pass with kids 12 and younger admitted free. Parking also is free.
One person sure to be there is Springfield resident Tonya Elmer.
Elmer’s grandpa didn’t know it at the time, but giving her a gourd birdhouse when she was a tot was the same as planting a seed. Years later, Elmer recalls that birdhouse with fondness and explains how it inspired her to grow gourds in her backyard once she had her own home in Springfield.
For several years, she filled her fence row with luscious vines that produced all types of gourds. To the chagrin of her family, she dried and kept the fruit but didn’t have the courage to begin turning them into art until about five years ago when she stumbled upon the Show Me Gourd Society’s website and learned about the Annual Gourd Art Festival that takes place in Springfield.
That festival is where she realized her love for gourds was more than a pastime.
“I walked into that first festival and there was this big sign that said ‘Welcome Gourd Heads’ and I thought ‘I’m home!’” Elmer said.
Elmer is now an active artist producing a variety of gourd art, including water drums, vases, purses, lamps and other pieces, and she’s involved in planning and promoting the festival.
“I live, eat and breathe gourds,” Elmer said, laughing.
For information about other events and things to do in Springfield, visit www.SpringfieldMO.org or call the Convention & Visitors Bureau at 417-881-5300 or 800-678-8767.
The CVB is a nonprofit organization dedicated to boosting the local economy through growth in travel and tourism.