Organizers of the inaugural Oktoberfest celebration in downtown Ozark announced that the event set for Oct. 2 has been canceled.
The Ozark Historic River District made the announcement that the celebration on the downtown square is off because construction work on streets and sidewalks in downtown Ozark is not complete, therefore making it unsafe and unfeasible for a festival to happen. Organizers announced plans to start Oktoberfest in downtown Ozark on Oct. 8, 2022.
Oktoberfest was planned to include live music, food, and sales and events at businesses on and around the Ozark square. Meanwhile, work continues to resurface streets and construct sidewalks on seven different streets downtown.
The Ozark Board of Aldermen and the Christian County Commission have an intergovernmental agreement to build sidewalks on the interior portion of the square, which is the property of Christian County. The agreement calls for a 50-50 split of the costs for the sidewalks, with the city and the county governments each paying $69,945.
In addition to the sidewalks, the contractor is building new curbing along the interior of the square on all four sides, and several concrete "bulb-out" pedestrian refuges at crosswalks.
A bulb-out is a street construction feature that extends a curb and sidewalk into a parking lane to provide additional pedestrian space and safety at a key location. In Ozark’s case, there are plans for bulb-outs on the interior of each corner on the square, which will shorten pedestrian crossing distances and promote safer passage for people walking onto the Christian County Historic Courthouse grounds.
The sidewalk projects coincide with the rehabilitation and expansion of the gazebo on the northwest corner of the courthouse lawn, with the intent that it become a gathering place and a host site for community events.
The mission of the Historic River District is to work together to build community, celebrate history, maintain small-town charm and promote economic vitality in downtown Ozark. The district’s boundaries include the downtown square, as well as the Finley River Bridge. In 2017, Ozark received a downtown revitalization grant from Missouri Main Street Connection, a cost-sharing program that helps enhance downtown business districts across the state. The grant launched the Historic River District organization.
In 2020, the Ozark Historic River District received $30,000 from Impact 100 Ozark for the revitalization of the gazebo on the northwest corner of the Christian County Historic Courthouse lawn. That project is also underway in concert with the sidewalk and street work.
The Ozark Department of Public Works started preparing to resurface and improve streets in the Historic River District section of central Ozark after voters enacted a 3/8-cent transportation sales tax in 2017, allowing for the creation of a five-year transportation improvement plan. Not all of the funding for street projects on the square, or in other parts of Ozark, comes from the transportation sales tax, but it helps the Ozark Department of Public Works conduct street projects on a larger scale. About $3.325 million budgeted for paving work will be stretched as far as possible.
Utility upgrade work in downtown Ozark wrapped up in late March 2021. On July 19, the Ozark Board of Aldermen approved a notice to proceed with the contract for full-depth asphalt pavement on seven different streets. Hall, Brick, Church and Elm streets will all be redone between Third Street and North Fourth Avenue. Second Street, First Street and Second Avenue are also part of the plan.
The city of Ozark has a website specific to the downtown street and sidewalk project that will feature key updates as the work progresses. You can find it by going to https://bit.ly/3la4IMJ.
A tentative schedule provided by Capital Construction, the contractor, calls for the work to be complete by Nov. 3.