Caves

Altenburg will see an influx of new faces this weekend, as hundreds of cave enthusiasts set up camp at the East Perry Community Fairgrounds.

The event marks the annual convention of the Mississippi Ozark Valley Region of the National Speleological Society.

“Perry County is the cave capitol of Missouri,” said Perry County Heritage Tourism director Trish Erzfeld. “There are so many great places to cave here. They came to us looking for opportunities here. We partnered with our friends down at the East Perry Fair, because they love camping and the outdoors. 

“It was a Cinderella slipper. It was a perfect fit for them to be down there and utilize that entire space down there.”

This year’s convention is hosted by the Middle Mississippi Valley Grotto, the oldest grotto — or chapter — of the NSS in St. Louis, and is dedicated to the exploration, research and survey of caves, especially in Perry County. The MMV Grotto is also affiliated with the Missouri Speleological Survey and the Missouri Caves and Karst Conservancy (MCKC).

Registration for the event opens at 8 a.m. Friday, but cavers are invited to arrive today to relax before the long weekend of activities.

“They’ve been in Perry County different times in the past,” said East Perry Fair committee spokesman Fred Eggers. “We talked to them and everything seemed to fit for them, so they’re going to be using our grounds.”

Eggers said he spoke with organizers this week who told him there were 140 people pre-registered for the convention, and a total of 170-200 people are expected to participate in the even over the weekend. 

“They’ve already been out there working the past couple of weekends,” Eggers said. “They’ve got a rope-climbing course set up that they’re going to use for a ‘Speleolympics,’ where they’ll have different events for people to compete in.”

Other expected events include opportunities to explore some local caves, in addition to planned kayaking trips on the Mississippi River and Apple Creek.

Missouri, sometimes referred to as the “Cave State,” boasts more than 6,200 caves and often competes with Tennessee for the top spot on the list. Perry County leads the state in number of caves, with more than 700, and features four of the five longest caves in the state — including Crevice Cave, the longest cave in the state of Missouri with more than 30 miles of mapped passages — providing plenty of opportunities for exploration.

During the weekend, visitors can also be expected to visit many local sights, including the Saxon Lutheran Fall Festival in nearby Frohna.

“That’s one of the reasons they set it for this weekend,” Eggers said, “to give them a chance to go out and see something in the community while they’re here visiting with us.”

Eggers said this is the first time for the fair committee to host an event like this and he hopes everything goes well.

“When they had their spring meeting, one of the things they talked about was having this gathering each year at the same location,” Eggers said. “We think they’re leaning toward us on that.”

Eggers said that would be a boon to the local economy.

“They’d be in town camping, they’d be needing food, they’d be needing drinks,” Eggers said. “They’d be doing a lot of business in the community.”

Erzfeld said she’s also been planning a number of tours for visitors, including winery tours, brewery tours and several others.

“We’re just going to really open the up the whole entire community to them,” Erzfeld said. "and utilize that entire space down there.”

This year’s convention is hosted by the Middle Mississippi Valley Grotto, the oldest grotto — or chapter — of the NSS in St. Louis, and is dedicated to the exploration, research and survey of caves, especially in Perry County. 

The MMV Grotto is also affiliated with the Missouri Speleological Survey and the Missouri Caves and Karst Conservancy (MCKC).

Registration for the event opens at 8 a.m. Friday, but cavers are invited to arrive today to relax before the long weekend of activities.

“They’ve been in Perry County different times in the past,” said East Perry Fair committee spokesman Fred Eggers. 

“We talked to them and everything seemed to fit for them, so they’re going to be using our grounds.”

Eggers said he spoke with organizers this week who told him there were 140 people pre-registered for the convention, and a total of 170-200 people are expected to participate in the event over the weekend. 

“They’ve already been out there working the past couple of weekends,” Eggers said. “They’ve got a rope-climbing course set up that they’re going to use for a ‘Speleolympics,’ where they’ll have different events for people to compete in.”

Other expected events include opportunities to explore some local caves, in addition to planned kayaking trips on the Mississippi River and Apple Creek.

Missouri, sometimes referred to as the “Cave State,” boasts more than 6,200 caves and often competes with Tennessee for the top spot on the list. 

Perry County leads the state in number of caves, with more than 700, and features four of the five longest caves in the state — including Crevice Cave, the longest cave in the state of Missouri with more than 30 miles of mapped passages — providing plenty of opportunities for exploration.

During the weekend, visitors can also be expected to visit many local sights, including the Saxon Lutheran Fall Festival in nearby Frohna.

“That’s one of the reasons they set it for this weekend,” Eggers said, 

“to give them a chance to go out and see something in the community while they’re here visiting with us.”

Eggers said this is the first time for the fair committee to host an event like this and he hopes everything goes well.

“When they had their spring meeting, one of the things they talked about was having this gathering each year at the same location,” Eggers said. “We think they’re leaning toward us on that.”

Eggers said that would be a boon to the local economy.

“They’d be in town camping, they’d be needing food, they’d be needing drinks,” Eggers said. “They’d be doing a lot of business in the community.”

Erzfeld said she’s also been planning a number of tours for visitors, including winery tours, brewery tours and several others.

“We’re just going to really open up the whole entire community to them,” Erzfeld said.

 

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