8 Annual Waterfront Events at Lake of the Ozarks to Get You Excited for Summer
The boating events at Lake of the Ozarks makes it one of the Midwest’s most popular tourist destinations. From poker runs to international boat races like The Shootout, there is a festival or event that everyone can enjoy. Some events have been going yearly since the 80s and others are newer to the area. If you love the water and are looking for things to do in Missouri, you should come check out one of our on-the-water events.
If you don’t have a boat, no worries! There are lots of boat rentals available from our local marinas. A few of them offer ways to participate off the water as well. You can also attend by driving to the nearest waterfront bar. Make your reservations early, because these events bring lake lovers from all over the US.
1. The Shootout
This mile-long boat race brings huge crowds flocking to the water to watch. Powerboats compete near Captain Ron’s to get the best speed, with a course record of 244 mph! The event has grown every year and now encompases a week of activities for adults and kids alike. The Mini Shootout lets any age driver compete with their RC boats. A parade and meet-and-greet lets fans see boats up close and chat with the drivers. Teams can compete in the poker run, boating to different locations on the Lake to try to get the best poker hand. Even more activities like a volleyball tournament, treasure hunt, live auction, fishing tournament, and golf tournament ensure there’s fun stuff to do all week. To top it off, the event has raised over one million dollars for local rescue workers. What a great way to have fun!
Aquapalooza is an on-the-water concert held every year at Dog Days Bar & Grill. Hundreds of boats line up in the cove while the more adventurous passengers paddle on their floaties to get close to the action. If you get there early enough, you’re welcome to party at the restaurant or chill by the swim-up bar for the day. As anyone who has attended can tell you, it’s packed! Get ready for making new friends, jamming to great tunes, and enjoying that lake life.
3. Harbor Hop
The Lake of the Ozarks Harbor Hop combines the fun of poker with a day on the water. After registering, participants boat to seven locations (including restaurants, bars, and marinas) to collect a card. At the end of the day, they turn in their hands to see who has won. There’s no need to rush, so you can enjoy a drink or lunch at one of the stops. This event is a great way to enjoy the best of what the Lake has to offer while raising money for a great cause.
To say that the lake has a plethora of fireworks shows would be an understatement. From the largest resorts to restaurants and bars, everyone is ready to celebrate with fireworks. Tan-Tar-A and the Lodge of the Four Seasons have the largest, with boats and cars parked for miles to watch. Check the official schedules to see who is hosting on Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. For an unforgettable experience, hop on one of the fireworks cruises to enjoy the night without any responsibilities.
5. LOMDA Boat Show
Boating is a mainstay at the Lake, and there are plenty of marinas and dealers equipped to sell you your dream boat. One of the most fun ways to browse is at the in-water boat show at Captain Ron’s Bar & Grill. The largest, hosted by the Lake Ozarks Marine Dealers Association, are quite a to-do, with one in the Spring and one in the Fall. From state of the art cruisers and power boats, to pre-owned pontoons, there’s bound to be a boat that you wouldn’t mind taking back to your own dock.
6. Canine Cannonball
This friendly competition is held at (where else?) Dog Days Bar and Grill on the water. Dogs and their owners come from all over to to test their jumping and swimming skills in one of three events. “Big Air” is a long jump where dogs run and jump off the dock into the water, vying for the biggest distance. The “Extreme Vertical” jump is exactly what it sounds like- a high jump competition. The “Speed Retrieve” tests both jumping and swimming skills as dogs race to get to a toy at the end of the pool.
Proceeds of the event go to our local animal shelter. They even have dogs on site for you to take home! If you’re up for the challenge you can enter your own dog in the competition. Would you rather just watch? Grab a specialty drink to have the proceeds matched and given to the shelter. I’d say that’s a win/win.
7. Support Our Troops Poker Run
This poker run gets bigger every year with over 80 boats participating in 2018. Participants collect 7 cards from their choice of waterfront stops to collect their best hand. Over-achievers who visit every single stop get a prize regardless of their poker luck. Tickets include registration for two, t-shirts, and a free dinner and after-party access. You can add additional tickets and make your boat party as big as you want. Besides being a blast, the event benefits H.E.R.O.E.S., a charity supporting military veterans.
8. Fall Harbor Hop
You probably get the logistics behind a poker run by now, so I’ll just say that the Fall Harbor Hop is one of the biggest, with over 40 stops. Sponsored by the Lake Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau, hoppers have the chance to win cash prizes.
They say it’s hard to frown on a boat, and these on the water events will give you even more reason to smile ear-to-ear. Besides friendly competition and a beautiful day on the Lake, they’re a great way to help local charities in the Lake area. We’ll see you at the next one!
For info on even more annual events, check out 12 Annual Lake of the Ozarks Off-the-Water Events You Don't Want to Miss