Our Grounded in Tradition, Growing Our Future campaign is dedicated to providing a brighter future for our children, our community, and our economy. Grounded in the traditions of honoring our agricultural heritage, educating our youth, and serving as a gathering place for all – we’re elated about our future plans. We are committed to growing our future through the construction of a new Arena and Youth Ag Education Center designed for a variety of community events. When complete, there won’t be another venue like it in all of Missouri.
The Ozark Empire Fair Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed in 2003, is dedicated to helping youth involved in agriculture, improving the fairgrounds facilities and infrastructure, and preserving Southwest Missouri’s rich agricultural heritage.
Our history traces back to 1937 when a group of community leaders dreamed of developing 76 acres of rolling hills, nestled between Grant Avenue and Norton Road, into fairgrounds. Those community members formed the Greene County Agricultural and Mechanical Society and turned their dream into a reality.
Through the years the fairgrounds have grown into a year-round entertainment, education, and event venue. We host a wide-range of events including youth education programs, charity fundraisers, youth archery tournaments, company banquets, community outreach expos, business showcases, and festivals - just to name a few.
The Ozark Empire Fairgrounds and Event Center (OEFEC) would no doubt make its founders proud. From its beginnings, 84 years ago, the fairgrounds have operated without any local, state, or federal financial assistance.
The economic impact study, Economic Impact Analysis of the Events at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds and Event Center, December 2017, conducted by Missouri State University, estimated the total local impact of OEFEC events on the local economy from July 2016 to June 2017 was $29.7 million. In subsequent years, our economic impact has steadily grown well beyond that number.
In addition to pumping millions of dollars into the local economy, OEFEC draws visitors to the Springfield area who may not otherwise venture to the Queen City. In 2019, OEFEC recorded 608,000 visitors attended events throughout the year at the fairgrounds.
In the past seven years, 2013 to 2019, the fairgrounds have completed more than $1.7 million in improvements to its facilities, including numerous building remodels and the construction of the Darr/Wheeler Ag Facility building.
The Ozark Empire Fair Foundation actively awards grants, scholarships, and premiums each year and to date has awarded more than a million dollars to youth in agriculture in Southwest Missouri.
We are especially grateful for the ability to be a good community partner. The fairgrounds collaborate with community organizations by providing our facilities free of charge for events such as Crosslines Holiday Center, Springfield Fire Department Driving Training, Freedom Fest, 4-H Pie Auction and more. Additionally, we partner with Hillcrest High School’s Special Ed Life Training Course, Community Alternative Sentencing Program (CASP), Convoy of Hope, Northside Betterment Association Attendance Party, Springfield Greene County Library Book Sale, and many others.
OUR PLAN TO GROW OUR FUTURE
Phase I of our campaign Grounded in Tradition, Growing Our Future is a Multi-Purpose Building. Many of our donors and friends stepped up early to help fund our new multipurpose building. Construction starts this spring on a facility that will allow us to better serve exhibitors and attract a greater array of events.
We are now turning our attention to Phase II - an Arena and Youth Ag Education Center. This $12 million facility will be a true jewel in the crown of the Queen City. It will bring events, visitors, and vendors for all to enjoy.
One of the most exciting parts of the project is the plan to create a Youth Ag Education Center located in the lower level of the Arena. This special space will serve as a place for educating youth about all aspects of agriculture, ensuring future generations develop an appreciation and knowledge of food production. We also envision other youth organizations and schools utilizing this unique space as well.
Arena and Youth Ag Education Center features:
- Increase Seating capacity from 2,800 to 6,800
- Concessions & Catered Mezzanine
- 93,000 square foot Arena
- 20,000 square foot Lower Level Youth Ag Education Center
Archery, wrestling, volleyball, cheerleading competitions and other sporting events
- Trade shows
- Indoor Festivals
- Livestock Shows
- Roller Derbies
And many more…
Phase III of our Grounded in Tradition, Growing Our Future campaign includes adding 400 camping sites along with a shower and restroom facility. Research and experience show us this is another area of need in Southwest Missouri.
This three-phase plan is grounded in traditions of honoring community, education, and fiscal responsibility. We have made great strides in renovating our current facilities. The next step toward sustaining the fairgrounds for the next 30 years’ rests in our Grounded in Tradition, Growing Our Future campaign.
The fairgrounds meets a vital need in our community for space to accommodate events of every size and scope. We ask for your support to help us keep pace with the rising demand for services, assist youth, and further our commitment to offer a facility that generations will enjoy for years to come.