By Debbie Robinson
NEOSHO, Mo. — Thousands from the Four-State Area flocked Saturday to Steve Roark’s Circle R Ranch to ride horses, buy crafts and pet sheep during the 11th annual Barnyard Days.
The event continues today from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Breakfast will be served at 8:30 a.m.
More than 20,000 people were expected to attend the three-day, privately operated event at the Roarks’ working cattle ranch, Roark said.
This year 110 arts and crafts vendors are displaying everything from holiday decorations, wildlife paintings and jewelry to quilts and decorative planters made out of tires.
Children’s activities included a petting zoo, horseback rides, archery, face painting, corn shelling and a hay maze.
Children’s games at 50 cents each will begin at noon today, Roark said.
The Cherokee Bowhunters Archery Club participated for the first time with demonstrations.
Four-year-old Gunner Putman of rural Neosho hit three balloons on a target with an arrow during his first try as an archer.
“I was aiming it down,” he said as family members and friends congratulated the youngster.
The smell of kettle corn filled the air as visitors toured booths or sat on straw bales listening to country music.
Today’s musical performances will feature gospel selections.
Under partly cloudy skies in an expansive green valley unchanged since the 1950s, children operated a hand-driven corn sheller and watched a 50-year-old working washing machine at an exhibit of antique tractors and farm equipment provided by the Wolf Branch Vintage Tractor Club.
Corn shelled by the children will be used for livestock feed, said Ramona Lehar, of Granby.
“We’ve come to keep the past alive,” Lehar said. “Hopefully, we’re getting some children interested in this.”
Organizations such as the Neosho Future Farmers of America, a mission team representing five churches, Joplin Future Farmers of America and Diamond 4-H Club were holding raffles and offering children’s activities to raise money.
One of the five churches Saturday held one of the more unusual fund-raisers to raise money to finance a mission trip to Darkar, Senegal, in West Africa.
Deedee Dowell of Neosho said the group was selling squares on a poster board that corresponded with a grid of squares in the pasture.
A cow could designate the winner by depositing a cowplop in one of the squares, she said.
Rylee Jennings, 6, of Webb City, attended the event with her mother, Robin, and rode a horse and had lunch.
“It felt like it was bumpy,” Rylee said about her horse ride.
Misty Deaton, of Neosho, bought a three-day pass so her two children could participate in activities.
Sporting a heart with a lavender design on her face, Kianna, 6, said she liked the face-painting best.
Her brother, Tahatan, 2, said he liked the horse ride and the “choo-choo train.”
Deaton, who bought holiday decorations and an Ozark Mountain Pony Swing, said it was a fun event for families.
Admission today is $5 for adults and free for children younger than 16. Coupons for $1 off the admission price are available at area McDonald’s locations.
Parking, assisted by men and women on horseback, is free.
Circle R Ranch is located 10 miles south of Joplin or five miles north of Neosho. Take Highway 71 to the Iris Road exit east and follow the signs. A complete map can be found at www.circle-r-ranch.com.
By Debbie Robinson
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