Spring is here, and so are live in-person both in and outdoors

It’s Morning Edition on KRPS; I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro. Spring 2021 has arrived, which means the reemergence of in-person events, with the pandemic, for now still peeking over our shoulder.

One year ago, most of us were spending more time at home and glued to the news. Schools in the area had gone to virtual learning, and people who work from home did. A vaccine, much less, two or three, seemed like a distant future. Tonight, another page of the Southwest Missouri story of the coronavirus pandemic will be turned when Third Thursday returns to downtown Joplin.

Joplin Downtown Alliance’s Lori Haun

Lori Haun of the Joplin Downtown Alliance says reorganizing the event has been demanding.“Well, it’s been a little challenging. You kind of forget things if you go too far in between. So, I’m kind of trying to figure things out again and make sure we’ve got all the pieces in place.“Tonight, the length of the event will be extended to encourage social distancing. Food trucks, the most popular destination will be spread out an extra block this year.

Lori says that some of the newest features of Third Thursday are businesses that have opened in downtown Joplin during the pandemic. “The biggest things that we have new are just what some of our businesses are featuring. We do have a brewery downtown now. So that’s exciting. It’s there on the 100 block. We do have a couple of new restaurants. The Boardroom is on the 100 block. And then Beats and Barrel is on the 500 block. Those are exciting. They’ll have some outdoor dining and things like that.”

There are about 65 vendors this year, and as of right now, there will be no music performers due to the pandemic. Public health is a priority for Lori in planning this event. “We’re not doing a lot of live performances right now either, because that will kind of try to limit places that have large crowds. Cause I feel like as long as people are out moving around able to keep their distance and stuff, it will be a nice safe event.” Third Thursday isn’t the only event happening downtown tonight.

Susan Adams, ‎Interim Executive Director of the ‎Spiva Center for the Arts

If you’re on Main Street and 3rd, walk one and a half blocks over to the Spiva Center for the Arts. The non-profit is hosting their Spiva in Bloom reception starting at 5:30. Susan Adams of the Spiva says to stop on by; you’ll likely be surprised. “For Spiva in Bloom, area floral designers come, and they reinterpret the photographers in flowers. And it’s so much fun; I have to admit, I never thought of floral design, that it could be so creative.” The reception tonight is the first of three days of artistry focusing on floral design. It also includes two already sold out in-person workshops.

After the lay off, Susan says the Spiva staff is looking forward to having more events and guests in person. “This really does begin to kick off Spiva starting to host events. Although we did have an opening for photo Spiva, we kept it specifically small.” Masks are still required when you visit the Spiva Center, and the staff will continue to stress socially distancing.

Also, four memorable days starting May 20, the Spiva Center will feature, Dear World, From Joplin With Love, commemorating the ten-year anniversary of the storm. “We’re going to have a remembrance for the 10-year anniversary, of the… storm in Joplin. It’s hard for me to even say the ‘T’ word. It’s given me goosebumps right now to even talk about it. But we are going to re-hang, a wonderful exhibit that we had which was called, ‘Dear World, From Joplin With Love.’

Pittsburg State professor of Orchestras, Dr. Raul Mungunia

Now, if you’re in the mood for live, outdoor music, Pittsburg State professor of Orchestras, Dr. Raul Mungunia, is your man. He says streaming performances are great and all, but…“Music happens in the split of a second. I mean, there’s something that, it is the beauty of it. That’s why live performances are so valuable because art is being made right in front of your eyes.” And ears in the case of the Southeast Kansas Symphony that will be performing this Sunday at 5 pm, at Pittsburg State.

Raul says to bring your own lawn chair and be prepared to have a great time. He says that the pandemic has proven that streaming and live performances will continue side by side into the future. “Yes, we practice, we rehearse, and we prepare for that. But for the audience, you don’t go to a museum and watch a painting being painted. You go, on the spot, but it’s already done. So the artist can come back and fix it, as many times as they need. Music doesn’t happen that way.”

The Sunday in the Park concert will feature music from The Sound of Music, The King & I, Phantom of the Opera, and Moulin Rouge. A lighter array of selections than Raul would usually program for the SEK Symphony. “I have Mr. Kehle, playing one of the most beautiful songs ever written, ‘You’re Always On My Mind’. You know, but I want people just to have fun. Come, sit down, go home, with one of those songs in your head and whistling while you’re driving back home.”

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