Back in the day, hundreds would line up outside the doors to buy tickets for the Lake's premier country show to spend a few hours listening to music and chuckling at the homespun tales and antics of the comedic talents. For more years than many can remember, Lee Mace's Ozark Opry was a Lake of the Ozarks original, a landmark that had somehow defied the passage of time and changes in the entertainment choices of a younger crowd.
In 2013, when fire destroyed much of the building, many thought the history of the Opry and the legacy that Lee Mace and his wife, Joyce, had started, were gone.
Although the stage area no longer exists as it did during the show's five decade run, a new unique museum now showcases the once popular show. The museum is located directly behind the Sears Hometown Store on the Osage Beach Parkway in Osage Beach, in the building that once housed the show. To get to the museum, visitors will need to enter through the store. Once there visitors will be able to take a walk down memory lane and remember back to when the stage was alive with the sounds of the area's favorite musicians.
The Opry was a major draw, helping create one of the the Midwest's premiere vacation destinations. The area was known for its quiet waters, mom-and-pop resorts and one of the country's first and finest country music shows, Lee Mace's Ozark Opry.
The show, its performers and the owners stood the test of time. The Opry was the most well-known and popular attraction at the lake. It drew thousands of country music lovers each season to the theater on Highway 54. It wasn't uncommon on weekends to find the owners, Lee and Joyce Mace, handling the parking or selling tickets. In later years, after Lee Mace died in a plane crash, Joyce continued to oversee operations.
The two had been sweethearts. He was from Brumley, she from Linn Creek. They started out square dancing together and ended up forging a marriage and a business partnership that lasted until Mace's death in June 1985.
The 2006 season marked the first time the Opry's doors were closed for the summer since 1953. The tradition for the show with its down-home country appeal was finally over.
Well-known for his showmanship, bass fiddle and passion for flying, Lee Mace is considered by many to be something of a legend in the lake area. He was a mentor to performers and, along with Joyce, a trailblazer in the entertainment and tourism industry here.
The Maces' stage performances combined music and comedy into a hand-clapping, foot-stomping show that brought standing-room-only crowds to the theater. As the show's popularity grew, they branched out into radio, TV and roadshows that brought the spotlight to Lake of the Ozarks.