Ozark Opry Bows Out
"Lee Mace was like the cornerstone of the Ozarks," recalled regular visitor Jim Hurlbert, "and when you think of country music, you think of Lee Mace."
That's why countless visitors and tourists wonder why Lee Mace's Ozark Opry won't open for this season after 53 years in business.
"This [the Ozark Opry] was the Lake of the Ozarks for so many, many years," said Joel Pottinger of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
For years, audiences filled the Opry's seats, and Mace was a huge part of the show until his death in 1985. Since then, his original bass has been on stage for every show. His wife Joyce kept the show going since her husband's death. But, the new U.S. 54 expressway will take a large part of the Opry parking lot.
"We're losing an era," admitted Trish Roberts of the Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. "An era has ended here at the lake."
An era that made the Ozark Opry the second-oldest in the U.S.; only Nashville's Grand Ole Opry is older. On the 50th anniversary of the Ozark Opry in 2002, Congress passed a resolution, thanking the Maces for their long record of community service.