Ozarks Studies Symposium canceled for 2020; will resume in 2021

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Organizers of the annual Ozarks Studies Symposium hosted by Missouri State University-West Plains have canceled the 2020 event.

This year’s symposium was set for Sept. 17-19 at the West Plains Civic Center.

Dr. Jason McCollom, assistant professor of history and event coordinator, said two factors went into the decision to cancel this year’s event, and both involve COVID-19.

“The first involves the sheer number of unknowns months in advance,” he said. “There might be a second wave of the pandemic, for example, prompting the university to limit gatherings or cancel events outright.

“We usually draw 100 attendees over three days, and that’s a lot of people mingling and interacting. Members of the Ozarks Studies Committee would rather postpone the 2020 symposium now than have a last-minute cancelation,” he said.

“The second consideration involves the unavoidable fact that attendees and presenters come from all around the Arkansas and Missouri Ozarks, and even from states far removed from our region, such as Mississippi, Texas and Oklahoma,” he added. “They themselves have travel restrictions mandated by their universities and places of employment.

“Indeed, the committee had received very few submissions by May of this year, when in ordinary times we have usually received dozens. It would be difficult, or perhaps impossible, in September of 2020 to get people to West Plains from all over the map, as we customarily do,” he said.

The good news is that the symposium will resume Sept. 23-25, 2021.

“Kaitlyn McConnell, founder of the popular website OzarksAlive.com, will be the 2021 Ozarks Studies Symposium keynote speaker,” McCollom said. “The committee and the university are excited to bring her and her Ozarks stories and experiences to West Plains next year.”

For more information about the Ozarks Studies Symposium, visit ozarksymposium.wp.missouristate.edu.

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