This year the parade will feature a grand marshal who is following in her parents footsteps and once wore the Miss Dogwood crown.

As the longest running springtime event at the Lake of the Ozarks, the Dogwood Festival in Camdenton celebrates it's 69th year the weekend of April 25-27. The festival typically coincides with the peak season of the blooming of Missouri's state tree, the Flowering Dogwood and brings in between 8,000 to 10,000 people from around the Midwest to enjoy the colorful scenery and the different activities and events that take place over the weekend.

"We look forward to the Dogwood Festival every year," says Trish Creach, executive director of the Camdenton Chamber of Commerce. "Springtime at the Lake of the Ozarks is so beautiful and the festival is a fun way to celebrate the season. There's always something for everyone to enjoy, so it's a great event for families and visitors of all ages.”

The festival gets underway on Thurs., April 25 with the opening of the carnival and runs through Sat., April 27. Events and activities will be held throughout Camdenton. 

A highlight of the festival is the Dogwood parade held on Saturday. This year the parade will feature a grand marshal who is following in her parents footsteps and once wore the Miss Dogwood crown. 

Meet Gary and Janny Drover, your 2019 Dogwood Festival Grand Marshals! Both, Gary and Janny retired in 2019 from longtime careers here at The Lake of the Ozarks. Gary retired from his 40-plus years as a private attorney and Janny retired with over 43 years as a Registered Nurse. Gary and Janny met on a blind date at a friend’s house in 1973 and married in 1976.

They’ve been married over 42 years and have three grown children and five grandchildren from the ages of 2 to 7.  Janny is rooted in strong ties to the community, her family has lived in the area for seven generations, and her parents, Anna May and Buford Foster, owned several popular local businesses and were once Grand Marshals for the Dogwood Festival themselves.  In 1971 Janny was crowned as the Dogwood Festival Queen and still has the crown she wore in that honor. 

When asked what their thoughts were for being selected as this years Grand Marshal’s both Gary and Janny stated, “We were surprised and flattered to have been chosen.”

While working as a sales representative at a steel company after graduating college, Gary had a roommate that was transferred to Minneapolis, Minnesota whom had only seen snow twice before.

“When my roommate had to plug his car into an electrical outlet so it would start in the mornings, it occurred to me that I wanted a career in which I had a little more control over my life”, Gary said, so he went back to law school as he had been encouraged to do and law school seemed to fit his personality.  Gary worked with the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office while in law school and went on to work for another law firm in Kansas City in 1975 until moving to Camden County in 1976. Gary has also been the Assistant Prosecutor as well as the Prosecutor for Camden County, “Being a prosecutor in 1979 was only a part time job and I ran my private attorney business at that same time.”  As far as his most memorable occasion during his career Gary stated, “I have lots of memories about clients I have helped, but I can’t talk about them for privacy reasons.  Generally, my most memorable occasions involved helping people resolve significant problems during very hard time in their lives.”

Janny was gently nudged into the direction of nursing by her mother (who was also a nurse) and knew a career in nursing was the perfect fit for her.  She worked for St. Luke’s of Kansas City, MO in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit in 1975 until moving back home in 1976.  Janny worked for the Camdenton Medical Center until the Lake of the Ozarks General Hospital opened in 1977 and she then became staff nurse in the Intensive Care Unit and the Emergency Room. When she retired, Janny was the Director of Outpatient Services and had been employed over 42 years at the lake hospital now known as Lake Regional Health System. When asked what her most memorable occasion was during her career Janny stated, “During a Dogwood Parade, a driver lost control of his car and some children were injured.  The outpatient staff had a float in the parade and we were able to provide medical assistance, coordinate a group of people to lift the car off one of the victims, and provide other professional care to the children.  I was so proud of my staff for their efforts, which made a difference that day, and was proud to be a part of that effort.” 

Both Gary and Janny agree that the theme this year for the parade, “Time Traveler – Past, Present and Future”, is one that relates to this area of the lake, “The Lake of the Ozarks has grown from a remote, sparsely populated region to one of the best vacation and residential regions in the country.  Janny’s Camden County family roots go back several generations here, but the vast changes in the area have occurred since we moved back to Camdenton to start our lives together in 1976,”  stated Gary.

When it comes to giving back to the community, Gary and Janny have given back in many ways.  

In addition to Gary serving as Prosecuting Attorney he has served on the Board of Directors for Kids’ Harbor for a number of years, served as President of the Little League, served on the Board of Directors of the Lake Athletic Booster Club for about two decades, and has served two different terms on the Board of Directors for the Camdenton Area Chamber of Commerce.  Janny has served as chairperson for three years for Project Graduation, she has served on the Board of Directors of the Tri-County YMCA, and she has served 12 years on the Camdenton R-III School Board with one year as Treasurer and two years as Vice-President.  Gary and Janny are in agreement that this has been a great place to raise a family. “We were blessed with three great children of whom we are extremely proud of.  Our children have fond memories of growing up here and return often with their own families.  We are grateful for the opportunity to have lived here for the past 43 years and for the close friends we have made here. This is a wonderful community and we are thankful for the good fortune that brought us here to live, work, and play.”  As far as their plans for retirement, “We both have lots of plans, which include some travel, family time, and a number of other endeavors which are going to keep (and have already kept) us very busy.