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Family Barbeque Spends 57th Year at Fair


For 57 years, one family has served barbeque to guests of the Ozark Empire Fair in Springfield. For them, the fair changes all the time, but one thing remains the same: the barbeque. KSMU’s Adam Hammons followed the waft of barbeque all the way to the fair, and interviewed a member of this family.

At the fair, there are many staples you see every year, whether it’s the rides, the corn dogs, the funnel cakes, or the shows. At the Ozark Empire Fair, one thing can be added to that list: a family run restaurant called Rudy’s Barbeque.

This year is their 57th straight year to be at the fair. The restaurant started out as a regular barbeque place on Commercial Street, but in the early ‘50s, they decided to start serving at the fair. They’ve been there ever since.

Charles Ingram works at the barbeque.

“Well my dad started this years ago, it’s tradition is what it is. We just kept it going.”

Since it’s a family run restaurant, relatives from all over Springfield and even from other states come out to help. On some days, three generations of the family can be seen making barbeque.

Almost six decades have passed, and Ingram says he’s seen many changes over the years.

“I’ve seen a lot of different changes in it, a lot of people who used to be out here are no longer here. So some of the oldies are gone.”

Their success over the years, however, has not been just because of a family atmosphere. They have their own family recipe for the sauce, and in addition, all barbeque is cooked on site daily.

Even with good food, though, a restaurant can’t work without the customers. Ingram talks about how he appreciates their “clientele.”

“We meet new people everyday. They travel all different parts of town. I mean out of town also has heard about us out here. They come in town and try our barbeque. And then they continue to come back which is good.”

It seems that however long the fair will last, this place just might be around too.

For KSMU News, I’m Adam Hammons.