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Ozarks Beatlemania erupts in Alton

For long-time Oregon County residents and Beatles fans of a certain generation, it was a chance to catch up, enjoy music and  a beautiful fall day and reminisce about the exciting weekend 50 years ago this week when the Fab Four spent a couple days of R&R at nearby Pigman Ranch. For younger generations, it was an opportunity to experience why everyone loved the Beatles and learn more of the  local folklore that evolved from the visit.

The Alton Community Foundation hosted Ozarks Beatlemania to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the weekend the Beatles took a break from their first U.S. tour and appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show to go fishing, ride go-carts and horses and relax around the pool at the ranch owned by Reed Pigman, who ran the charter airline the group was using during the tour.

The weekend started with a full house at the West Plains Civic Center Friday night for a concert by the Liverpool Legends, a tribute band founded by George Harrison’s sister, Louise, which performs regularly in Branson. On Saturday, the action moved to Alton, the Oregon County seat, where the square was filled with merchandise, information and food booths, along with two music stages and more activities in the Community Worship Center and on the school grounds.

“It is at the top of our expectations,” said ACF President Brenda Ledgerwood, who noted visitors came from St. Louis, Kansas City, Cape Girardeau, Springfield, Arkansas, New York, and West Virginia. “We’ve struggled with getting our name out. It’s been a good awareness raiser for us.”

The Alton Community Foundation will use proceeds from the nonprofit festival to benefit its community work, including support for the Alton Volunteer Fire Department’s building fund.