Concerts and carnivals: how Joplin residents define entertainment

Joplin residents took on the town the evening of May 30 to attend different entertainment opportunities. The turn out and energy of Evans United Shows spring carnival and the launch of the Downtown Concert Series were night and day.

Laughter and excited screams filled funnel cloud scented air. The carnival was packed with people, walking shoulder-to- shoulder through barely open areas, pushing and nudging to get through tight knit lines, and there were no masks in sight.  

Joplin resident Kayla White said “I come every time it’s here in town with my best friend Jack, it’s been a tradition. We love all the rides and Freak Out is our favorite, so we always ride it first.”

The last year and a half of following pandemic guidelines was far from people’s minds as they embraced an opportunity to enjoy cotton candy and Ferris wheels.

“Last year it was shut down, so it’s crazy this year. The rides are double as long, everybody is just out with their family because it’s the first break from everything that happened last year,” said Desi Willard, a Joplin resident. 

While there was no shortage of enthusiasm, there was a sense of recklessness. People were preoccupied with having a good time and didn’t concern themselves with being precautious. Not only were gathering guidelines for COVID-19 ignored, but people were pushing through crowds and drivers weren’t concerned for others in the parking lot. However, no injuries or wrecks were officially reported.

Alternatively, on the other side of town, nestled intimately in Spiva Park located on Main Street in front of the Joplin Globe, was the launch to the downtown concert series presented by the Joplin Arts District featuring musician, Randall Shreve. 

“We just love Randall. He’s excellent, he performs a lot in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas,” said spectator, Jill Dodson.

Dodson and her inner circle are self-proclaimed groupies for Shreve’s music. They have followed Shreve to different venues and booked him for private events.

“We ran across him when we were at Blackthorn and we go to Eureka a lot and we booked him at our house last September for my husband’s birthday. He’s wonderful, he’s a great guy and a great performer,” said Dodson.

As one song came to a close and Shreve took a sip from his nearby bottle of water, the serene ambience remained throughout the crowd. Seconds after Shreve’s fingers went back to stumming his guitar, a father picked up his young son into his arms and other couples embraced each other, dancing slowly to the sound of Shreve’s raspy voice flowing through the speakers.

At the same time, an elderly couple sat on a park bench nearest the stage, holding each other close. Dodson pointed out the significance of how calming music doesn’t have an age limit and explained how providing a positive and peaceful escape is beneficial to the community.

Dodson said, “Joplin Arts District designated the timeframe, and I’m super excited about Joplin having a concert event series and I think it’s great for the town, it’s great for the community in general.”

While they attended the first show in Joplin’s Downtown Concert Series in support of Shreve, Dodson is excited to see what is in store for the remainder of the summer event.

“I would hope there is a great assortment and variety of music throughout the concert series because what some people here may enjoy, some people don’t,” said Dodson.

The Joplin Arts District have yet to announce the date and headliner for their next concert event, but they have been actively posting on their Facebook page and teasing about more to come. For those looking to enjoy a more bustling type of entertainment, the carnival extended their stay in Joplin until June 6.

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