Clockwise, from left are committee members Chris Pitcher, Stacey Picard, Bill Crabtree, Robin Fischer, Becky Groff, Beth Cumins, Marilyn Ellis, Rod Hendricks and Woody Kahl as the group puts the finishing touches on plans for the 50 Summers on Stockton Lake festival to be held July 5-6.

Local excitement builds, event hopes to be first of many

The 50 Summers on Stockton Lake committee and members of the Stockton Lake Area Arts Council officially held their last formal meeting before the first-ever celebration takes place July 5-6, at the Stockton Dam.

Anticipation, enthusiasm and energy were all running high and final details, plans and logistics were all confirmed in the eventful and thorough meeting held Friday, June 27.

One of the event’s coordinators, local community volunteer and area art enthusiast Beth Cumins, shared part of the group’s reasoning behind why the event had more than just Independence Day significance.

“This is far more than a 4th of July festival. Sure, it will be patriotic and tie in with the city’s fireworks on July 6, but this celebration is also meant to break some longstanding stigmas about this beautiful and diverse area,” Cumins said. “There’s so much culture and so much beauty here to experience that most people are largely unaware of. This new event is structured to highlight much of that. Our goal is make this a tradition which celebrates the arts, culture, music and versatility of this gorgeous area.”

“This whole effort grew out of a simple conversation a few of us had at a Launch Stockton meeting months ago,” Chris Pitcher, manager of Woody’s Fast Stop and event organizer said. “I’m amazed at the participation so far and what we have already accomplished is great. We’d love for this to be a yearly event. If there’s a way to do more things like this and bring people to the lake, we’re going to do it. We need events like this here in Stockton and all of these local groups and businesses want to build from this year’s event.”

Local business owner, event sponsor and coordinator Woody Kahl, said his involvement circled around local growth and highlighting all the different lake-related possibilities Stockton could offer.

“The entertainment aspects, the community aspects and the tourism aspects when it comes to the lake, camping, boating, you name it — they are all right here in our backyard,” Kahl said. “An event like this is a great way to showcase numerous things to do in Stockton and they are all going to be in one place for this celebration. There is serious growth potential here for businesses and lake attractions with this. That’s what we want to see come out of events like this.”

In speaking to the event’s future, all committee members in attendance collectively said the group’s goal was to build something which can expand, offer something unique and new each year while being a highly anticipated annual event.

“This is a great opportunity to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our dam and lake,” Rod Hendricks, Operations Project Manager, U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Stockton Project Office, said. “They’re both a significant part of the area. This helps connect the corps and all our services directly with the community. We’re all happy to be a part of sharing the area’s history in such a unique and engaging way.”

In addition to future plans, Hendricks confirmed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Stockton Project Office is very much receptive to the idea of making the new festival an annual event, adding the location could be made available to the same group for a yearly dam celebration in an effort to make the lake and its facilities more visible to outdoor recreationists throughout the region.

In additional to the all-volunteer committee’s participation, support has been received from Lake Stockton Area Arts Council, Stockton-area Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Woody’s Fast Stop, Stockton Community Foundation, the City of Stockton, Stockton United Methodist’s Go-Green Team and the Missouri Arts Council.

Additional information and a schedule of events for the inaugural 50 Summers on Stockton Lake festival can be found on page 16A.

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