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Opal Agafia’s 2nd Annual Ozark Mountain Soul Starts Thursday in Eureka Springs

In 2017, about a year after Opal Agafia released her first full-length album and dove head-first into building her career as a musician, she worked the gate at Hillberry Music Festival, an award-winning fest held at The Farm near Eureka Springs and hosted by Railroad Earth

At 2022’s Hillberry, Opal was working again. But this time, her job was leading a 6-piece band as they performed her own songs on the Main Stage, warming up thousands of fans for Sam Bush and Railroad Earth.

Opal Agafia performing on the Main Stage at Hillberry 2022 before an enthusiastic crowd

The transition from festival staff to Main Stage act was hard-earned and well-deserved, and the wildly enthusiastic response from Hillberry attendees was welcome evidence that Opal has built a lot more than “just” an outstanding band featuring some of the most talented musicians in the Ozarks region. 

With a level of tenacity, grit, and grace that only a woman from the Ozarks could comprehend, Opal has continued building her song library, her repertoire of jaw-dropping covers, her vocal chops, her on-stage leadership, and her “footprint” in the indie roots country music scene. (Opal and her band recently played her first show in Nashville, and the packed house and venue management were so impressed, they raved on social media afterwards.)

Along her journey, Opal’s efforts to share the spotlight (and the stage) with other Ozarks artists — and especially women — have led to an inclusive, cooperative, and diverse music scene whose influence and fanbase have expanded well beyond Arkansas. 

In an industry that has a persistent gender equity gap — only about 20% of music festival performers are women, according to the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative — Opal didn’t let the so-called “glass ceiling” stop her. 

Instead, she built her own damn house, launching her own music-and-camping festival in 2022, held at The Farm Campground and Events near Eureka Springs. 

Her new festival, called Ozark Mountain Soul, was so successful in its first year, Opal immediately began planning the second annual Ozark Mountain Soul, which takes place later this week, June 15–18. The lineup features headlining sets by Opal and her band, plus national touring artists The Steeldrivers and Vince Herman (of Leftover Salmon fame), and a slew of artists based in the Mid-South whose sounds represent a broad swath of genres.

The lineup’s variety does a great job in representing what the Ozark Mountains sound like — the heart of original music from artists as diverse as the Ozarks region itself. (The Ozarks region covers 47K square miles and stretches from St. Louis, Missouri, down to Little Rock, Arkansas, and includes two mountain ranges and the Salem Plateau!) 

That sound, the “soul” of the Ozark Mountains, is a little bit country, a little bit blues, a little bluegrass, a little R&B, a little rock and roll… you get the idea. It’s anything and it’s everything, just add a little twang and a lot of determination and ingenuity, and you’ve got Ozark Mountain Soul. 

The moniker “Ozark Mountain Soul” is the description Opal landed on when she formed her own band and venues would ask her what kind of music she played. (Which, let’s be honest, is a little like asking a hardcore music fan to name their single favorite genre. That’s a big nope. It’s impossible!) So when she decided to throw her own festival featuring a variety of artists and musical styles, ‘Ozark Mountain Soul’ seemed like a good fit, Opal says. And true to form, she’s nailed it, with a second-year lineup representing the “soul” of what music from the Ozarks sounds like. 

The fans’ enthusiasm for Ozark Mountain Soul has not gone unnoticed; last month, the producers of Hillberry Music Festival made OMS an official “partner festival.” Now, fans can purchase tickets to both festivals at a discounted rate — a full event pass to both costs $335, while a full event pass to just OMS is $145 and a full event pass to just Hillberry is $245.

Turning the Pandemic Pivot into Expansion and Growth

Noted early on for her innate songwriting abilities, Opal is constantly writing songs, sharing lyric duties with her mom, Deanna Smith. She’s also constantly working to grow as a singer, and constantly improving compositions and arrangements for her band — making space for their instrumental prowess and for more extended jams as the group’s synergy skyrocketed.

The growth is apparent to anyone who’s seen Opal Agafia perform more than once. It’s also apparent from a glance at her calendar.

Even after the pandemic halted touring, Opal was working mostly behind the scenes to expand her footprint and her fanbase. It wasn’t all behind the scenes though. 

When the pandemic shutdowns began and performing artists had to quickly pivot, the video and audio creatives at Fayetteville-based Deepwood Media immediately launched a series of livestream-only concerts, and Opal Agafia was among the first artists featured, in an April 3, 2020, virtual concert.

That fall — with spread-out outdoor events the only option for event promoters — fans got a peek at Opal’s future: She was selected to open for Del McCoury Band at a one-night, socially distanced mini-festival dubbed Delberry, held at The Farm outside Eureka Springs, the home of Hillberry Festival.

But the bulk of her planning and practicing didn’t become apparent to the public until pandemic restrictions lifted and live music venues began hosting big events again, in mid-2021. Opal Agafia announced her first one-day festival, featuring roots bands from Arkansas and Missouri, held in July at Prairie Street Live’s outdoor stage. 

The headlining act was Opal’s own Tribute to Dolly Parton & Loretta Lynn set, with guest appearances by over a dozen Ozarks musicians. The level of artistry, professionalism, and preparedness on display throughout that whole event — there was no “winging it,” every performer and every crew member was clearly well-directed and well-rehearsed — served as more evidence of Opal’s hard work and ambitious vision.

In retrospect, it’s also clear to me that the event kicked off a season of rebirth and reconnection among the region’s musicians, which has continued blossoming throughout 2022 with new collaborations, new multi-artist events highlight Ozarks artists, and tons of new music coming out of Northwest Arkansas’ scene.

“My goal was to host a small, one-day event that really focused on local and regional artists with a family-friendly and community vibe,” Opal wrote on her Facebook page a few days later. “Between the crews, bands, and fans the vision came to life and beyond. … Our community is full of talented humans, and I’m so grateful to get to work with you all!”

She closed her thank-you post by unveiling a new name for her event and announcing it would be held again as a multi-day destination festival: Ozark Mountain Soul. 

It was another peek at Opal’s big dreams and hard work. OMS was expanded to a full three-day music and camping festival held at The Farm. Ozark Mountain Soul 2022, held June 30–July 2, also included Jon Stickley Trio, Aaron Kamm and the One Drops, The HillBenders, Mountain Sprout, The Burney Sisters, Chucky Waggs & Co., Rachel Ammons, Pretend Friend, Red Oak Ruse, Patti Steel, and DimeTrip. 

While she was planning her first full festival, Opal was invited to participate in the 2022 Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City, where she was a featured songwriter and performer. And she appeared on several regional radio and television shows promoting OMS, including a live performance on the NBC affiliate morning show, Good Day NWA.

As 2022 drew to a close, Opal was working harder than ever, on her own music as well as on collaborative events and this year’s OMSF. 

In between all that, Opal managed to pull off another big show emphasizing collaboration and featuring female voices: a Loretta Lynn Tribute Hosted by Opal Agafia & Friends, held at George’s in Fayetteville. 

You might think Opal would be planning for a lengthy vacation by now, but she’s nowhere near finished. She’s mostly just grateful. Well, grateful and determined to keep growing.

“I thank my lucky stars for music and songwriting,” she wrote on Facebook following her Main Stage throwdown at Hillberry on Oct. 2. “I know my life would look a lot different without it. I can’t imagine my life without music, truthfully. I’m grateful that this form of self-expression found me at an early age and that when I grew up, I chose to follow my childhood dreams. I went against the odds and most of my family, when I chose to pursue music, and luckily it has become one of the most fulfilling joys in my life.” 


Regular Gate Hours June 14–17

  • Wednesday: 10 am – 12 midnight
  • Thursday: 8 am – 12 midnight
  • Friday: 8 am – 12 midnight
  • Saturday: 8 am – 12 midnight

Payments accepted ruing regular gate hours above: cash, card, or scan tickets purchased online.

Late Gate Hours: We will have someone scanning tickets at the gate 6/14 – 6/17 from midnight – 8 am. If you are arriving during these hours, you purchase your ticket(s) online so we can scan them during Late Gate hours. We cannot take credit cards or cash payment during Late Gate hours.

Ticket Prices:

  • WEDNESDAY 6/14 Arrival: $155 for full event pass + early arrival
  • THURSDAY 6/15 Arrival: $145 for full 3-day event pass
  • FRIDAY 6/16 Arrival: $135 for 2-day event pass
  • SATURDAY 6/17 Arrival: $65 for 1-day event pass

All event tickets include primitive camping, access to the shower house on site, activities, and giant water slide.

Buy tickets for Ozark Mountain Soul here.

General Information

Kids 12 and under attend event for free.

Dog friendly! Must be on leash.

Giant water slide hours: 10 am to 6 pm, Thursday Friday & Saturday. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

RVs and Campers:

RV passes with hookups are sold out. 

You may bring your RV, POP UP CAMPER, BUS and anything else longer than 20ft for a $25 parking fee — paid at the gate when you arrive. No hookups are available. This is a one-time parking fee and covers you for the entire weekend. There is a free dump station on site for RVs.


A tent area will be set up for live artists! Crystal Stone will be the on-site coordinator. All live artists are welcome. Live artists must purchase an event ticket.

Live artists keep 100% of their sales on site.

Water Sports Available Nearby

Eureka Springs Adventures will be offering KAYAK, TANDEM KAYAK and STANDUP PADDLE BOARD RENTALS. All rentals will INCLUDE a around trip shuttle! Rentals are $49 + tax 

On Friday and Saturday shuttles will run at 9:30 am from The Farm and pick up/return at 12:30 pm. Boats will put in at Table Rock Lake Access and take out at Houseman Access (as shown on the map below)

Book your rental in advance at