Echo Bluff State Park set to open July 30 in Eminence

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Posted: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 6:00 am

by Laura Wagner

Managing Editor

Missouri's 88th state park, Echo Bluff, is set to open on July 30. The park, located in Shannon County, began as Camp Zoe. The camp was originally established in 1929 as a youth camp and spanned 57 years until it closed in 1986.

In 2004 Jimmy Tebeau purchased the camp nestled on 370 acres. Camp Zoe featured concert stages in a natural amphitheater setting and boasted a site capacity of 10,000. An annual music festival known as "Schwagstock" was held on the weekends of May, June and September. The camp also promoted "Springjam" music festival in April and a "Spookstock" music festival in October.

In 2011 Tebeau was indicted by a federal grand jury on one felony count of operating premises for the facilitation of illegal drug use and a forfeiture claim on the campground. According to allegations in the indictment, "Tebeau consciously managed the concerts and campground for the specific purpose of facilitating the distribution and use of multiple controlled substance by the concert patrons." Along with the filing of the indictment, 

the United States Attorney's Office also filed a civil complaint seeking civil penalties and the forfeiture of money derived from the campground's operation. The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the South Central Drug Task Force. Tebeau served a 30-month sentence in Federal Prison after taking a plea deal. He was released in 2014.

The fate for Camp Zoe was sealed as the State of Missouri acquired the land in November of 2013. The property was purchased for $640,000 after being sold at auction by the United States Department of Justice. The State of Missouri also acquired 80 acres adjacent to Camp Zoe for $450,000 to complete the park's necessary design.

Developing the park cost approximately $52 million, which is being paid out of several existing Missouri State Parks fund sources. Additionally, $10 million of the cost for roads within and around the park, as well as a bridge across Sinking Creek, is being offset by a Community Development Block Grant received by the Shannon County Commission. The property abuts the Roger Pryor Pioneer Backcountry, roughly 65,000 acres, owned by the L-A-D Foundation.

Echo Bluff State Park will feature:

• An iconic lodge featuring accommodations for up to 78 guests, indoor and outdoor dining, meeting room space, and indoor and outdoor special event opportunities;

• 9 cabins of various sizes with full amenities and accommodations for up to 108 guests;

• 62 full service camping sites with electrical and water service, 43 of which also have sanitary service;

• 4 acres of primitive camping/group camping with a group fire ring and restroom building;

• A bluff top event shelter which can accommodate 200 people for special events like weddings and reunions;

• An amphitheater with a 50 guest capacity for small/medium events with tiered seating and a dramatic natural backdrop;

• A signature vehicular and pedestrian bridge spanning 456 feet over Sinking Creek.

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