Nine months after she announced a major commercial and agricultural development in Ozark, Megan Morris welcomed some of the first guests to a major public event at Finley Farms.

The daughter of Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris was dressed in a t-shirt and jeans and rain boots as she welcomed guests to the first Ozark Farmers Market event of 2019 on Thursday. Moments after the farmers market opened to the public at 3 p.m., Morris helped guests find places to park their cars on the spongy grounds to the west of the historic Ozark Mill, where a fresh layer of white gravel kept tires from getting stuck in the mud.

It goes to show that even the child of a multi-billionaire can do a little bit of dirty work to make sure a project succeeds.

The Finley Farms development plan calls for a restaurant, a speakeasy-style bar, agricultural farm development, river access and nature trails and a multi-purpose building that can house educational classes and seminars.

“Like Dogwood Canyon, Top of the Rock and Big Cedar, it’s going to connect people to nature and really offer genuine Ozarks hospitality,” Megan Morris said when the project was announced Aug. 1, 2018.

The development will celebrate the town of Ozark, Morris said, in a way that helps visitors create memories.

“The history of this property and the mill itself is really incredible and has inspired our entire team to preserve as much of the history as we can,” Morris said.

The first farmers market of the season proved to draw a crowd, with most guests anxious to walk the grounds at Finley Farms for the first time. In spite of heavy rains, vendors stayed dry under the roof of a newly refurbished building. Experienced guests of the farmers market moved quickly to make purchases from their favorite vendors.

When Finley Farms was first announced, Ozark City Administrator Steve Childers referred to the section of U.S. Highway 65 from Springfield to the Arkansas line as a “string of pearls,” and he hopes Finley Farms will help Ozark shine among all of the attractions accessible to those who travel Highway 65.

The process of developing a natural pearl takes time, but it appears Finley Farms is on an accelerated track.

The process of harvesting natural pearls from oysters is a messy one, and the first farmers market of the season was certainly a bit soggy (Rance had to spend some time cleaning his shoes that night). However, the new partnership with Ozark Farmers Market appeared to get off to a great start, and we saw smiles all around the market.

We applaud everyone who got a little bit messy to visit Finley Farms, including Megan Morris, and we continue to hope that Steve Childers is right about that string of pearls.

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