Fifty years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers changed life in the sleepy little town of Stockton. The corps built a hydro-power generation unit and a dam, and Stockton Lake was born.

Lake Stockton Area Arts Council, in cooperation with the corps of engineers and Woody’s Fast Stop, will celebrate 50 years of summer at a two-day festival Friday through Saturday, July 5-6, near the Old Mill Pond below the dam.

An opening ceremony beginning at noon Friday, July 5, will commemorate the building of the dam and Stockton Lake. Dignitaries from the corps, City of Stockton, Cedar County and others takes place between noon and 1 p.m. A  sky diver will descend from the skies carrying the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flag.

Tours of the dam will be Friday only, beginning at 1 p.m., and the last tour will be at 4:30 p.m.

Not only does the event celebrate the dam, but also the arts. Visitors can stroll through vendor displays of fine and primitive art which acknowledge the Ozarks' roots. Chainsaw woodcarvers from Missouri, Arkansas and Iowa will display their talents Friday and Saturday. A quick carve takes place from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, July 5, with more carving from 8 a.m to 3 p.m. Saturday, including the large log carving event.

Artists scheduled to display are Sally Bast, stained glass and jewelry; Pam O’Connor, pointalism; Kathy Roweton, various mediums; Larry Johnston, oil painting; Deby Gilley, Friday only, print making; Donna Tomas, whittlers and wood carvers; McNeal Artwork; Kevin Esterline, photographer; Addy Copeland, visual arts; Angie Meyers, painting; Bob Sturgeon, lures and ink drawings; Larry Wolfe, wire jewelry; and Ginnese Ogesby, Chic in the Woods, primitive arts.

Carvers’ and art vendors’ works will be available for sale.

One of the art council’s initiatives is to introduce children to the world of art and creativity. With that in mind, Saturday is all about the kids. Children’s art activities include a class in water color painting. Missouri Department of Conservation will be on hand to help children create entries to enter into its wildflower art contest.

Bo Brown will teach the youngsters survival skills. Entertainment by Professor Farquar and Polecat Annie, along with story-telling by Marideth Sisco should keep them enthralled. Dickerson Park Zoo is on tap to bring a bald and golden eagle to the event to teach children about these majestic birds, which can readily be seen around Stockton Lake.

What would a celebration be without music and food? Three bands are on tap for Friday, including Robin's Hood, Stockton's own Kentucky 31 and headliner Marideth Sisco and The Blackberry Winter Band. Saturday's music features Sugarfoot Detour.

Food vendors will be on the grounds, and they will include Caplinger Mills Volunteer Fire Department with its world-famous fish and homemade chips, Slinging Stones serving tacos, St. Andrew Lutheran Church cooking up brats with fixings and Elks providing snow cones, among other offerings.

Admission to the event is $5, cash only, each day with entry at the east side of the dam. Children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by a parent or adult.

Come out to celebrate the arts, Stockton Lake and 50 years of summer.

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