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One rarely sees a tour bus on the trail nowadays, like there were in the 1960s, and the Ava Saddle Club no longer parks cars on horseback.
No longer does the Ava Lions Club get up at the crack of dawn and go down to set up specially-crafted barbecue pits to cook the hundreds of chicken halves needed to serve the waiting public.
But for many folks in and around Ava, the Glade Top Trail is just as big of an event now as it was back then.
The Glade Top Trail celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and hundreds of folks are expected to make their way south of Ava into the Mark Twain National Forest where the blacktopped road intersects with the U.S. Forest Service road.
The noon meal will be served at the Caney Picnic Area, just like it was 50 years ago. While folks are eating, live music will be playing on the open-air stage with a backdrop of some of the most beautiful fall scenery to be seen anywhere in the state.
Now there is an accommodating pavilion on site, which provides shade or shelter, whichever may be needed, and picnic tables for those who don’t care to sit on a split-log bench – or flat rock – and hold their plate on their lap.
Restroom facilities were also added a few years ago by the Forest Service, which can make the afternoon’s activities a little less stressful.
Sponsored by the Ava Area Chamber of Commerce, the Glade Top Trail Flaming Fall Revue still attracts visitors from as far away as West Plains and Springfield – and beyond – who enjoy the laid-back atmosphere not found many places these days.
The program will kick off at 10:30 a.m. with a church service on the mountain, with Les Hallmark preaching, and singing by Missy Breshears.
For the noon meal, the Chamber of Commerce will be serving a pulled pork dinner for $6.50, provided by the Hucklebuck, in Ava, or a brown beans and ham dinner for $4. Meals will be served from 11 a.m. till 3 p.m.
There will also be a hot dog meal for $2.50 for children 12 and under.
While you are on the mountain there will be live musical entertainment, pumpkin painting for the kids, a scarecrow costume contest, turkey calling contest, the annual homemade dessert auction and more!
Don’t forget that along the way you can stop at the many pull-overs and take a picture of the fall scenery. The views on Glade Top are the finest around, and it looks like the time for this year’s event may be right on target to catch the peak of the fall colors.
“Missouri’s fall colors seem to be developing a little slowly this year,” according to Mark Twain National Forest silviculturist Charly Studyvin. “However, a succession of warm, sunny days and cool, but not freezing nights seems to bring out the most spectacular color displays. That is exactly the kind of weather we’ve been having on Mark Twain National Forest for the last week, so gorgeous fall colors should be coming soon,” Studyvin said.
Expanding over the next couple of weeks, hues of red, gold and orange will appear through Mark Twain National Forest.
Although the peak of Missouri’s fall color is difficult to predict, Missouri usually has a fall color season that may last four to six weeks. Color change starts earliest in northern Missouri and moves southward across the state.
Following is the schedule of events for Sunday, Oct. 17:
10:30 a.m.: Church service provided by Les Hallmark with Missy Breshears singing.
11 a.m.-3 p.m.: Serving dinner.
11 a.m.-12 p.m.: Bluegrass Traditions.
12-12:30 p.m.: Turkey Calling Contest.
12:45 p.m.: Scarecrow costume contest winner announced.
1-2 p.m.: Michael Tony Ingerson, singer/song writer.
3 p.m.: Youth Group Singing
2-3:30 p.m.: Homemade Dessert Auction.
3:30-4 p.m.: Dean Morrison.
To travel the Glade Top Trail, from Ava take Highway 5 south to Route A. Turn right on A and go to Douglas County Road 409. Turn left onto 409 and follow the paved road into the National Forest and follow the well-marked route.
Numerous points of interest are marked along the route, many with information boards that explain the significance of the particular site.
For more information please call the Ava Area Chamber of Commerce at 417-683-4594 or visit online at www.avachamber.org.