In this weekly feature, we ask someone from the community five questions. Today we chat with Patrick Tuttle, of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau.
1. Why is Joplin’s 150th birthday a historic milestone this year?
Incorporated on March 23, 1873, Joplin’s official 150th birthday will be celebrated on March 23.
A city-appointed celebration committee worked on events and activities to be held to commemorate the city’s 150th anniversary. There are many of us on the committee who were here for the centennial in 1973.
It’s time to be able to capture the place, the history, the culture and even start thinking about the future. This is what we’re looking for: to put all of these things into perspective. We know what we have done in the last 10 years for the city’s recovery, but how does it tie into our resilient past and how will it set the stage for us and future generations for the next 50 years?
2. Who makes up the Joplin Celebrations Commission?
The celebration committee has about 14 people, and we’ve been together for three years. We formed for four reasons: the state’s bicentennial last year, its 150th this year, the United States turns 250 on July 4, 2026, and Route 66 turns 100 on November 11, 2026. The commission will disband after November 2026 after the centenary.
After this year, we will focus on celebrating 250 years of America and 100 years of Route 66. We also have a tri-state corridor committee on the tourist side already working between Carthage and Miami, Oklahoma. Then, we also have the state commission, which will lead the events for the celebration throughout the state.
3. How does the Joplin CVB work with the celebrations committee to mark the city’s 150th anniversary?
The tourism marketing arm of the city is taking the lead on the commission, and as we get the agenda together of what we’re celebrating, we’ll be involved in the marketing side. We will help spread the word and design the social platforms and print platforms. We are taking that part.
4. What events will coincide with Joplin’s 150th birthday?
We will be holding a conference on March 21 on Gabby Street, who was a Cardinals baseball manager who retired to Joplin. He has become quite a local celebrity. Dr. Galen Irwin will give a lecture on the memorabilia he has collected and his story about him.
March 23 is Joplin’s actual birthday, and there will be a few activities going on at City Hall that afternoon, centered primarily on Thomas Hart Benton’s mural, done for the centennial. Now he turns 50 and we will celebrate that piece too.
April 15 is going to be a really busy day. There’s baseball at Joe Becker Stadium, and we have two teams from the Vintage Base Ball Association, which promotes baseball played in the 19th century and other historical eras. Topeka plays against St. Louis, and it is very rare for these two teams to meet on any ground other than a tournament.
They play in the old woolen uniforms and use the old gloves and balls. Galena High School will also play Columbus High School, and then Joplin will play Pittsburg High School during an afternoon game. There will be three great baseball games at Joe Becker Stadium. High school students will take on old-time mining camp names.
On the evening of April 15, there will be a big show at Missouri Southern State University’s Taylor Performing Arts Center about local talent Percy Wenrich, who used to be from Joplin and was a major contributor to ragtime. The second act will be a fantastic barbershop quartet. We have two international quartets, men and women, who are coming to do a show that will be free to the public.
Throughout the day on April 14, these international barbershop champions will hold a clinic for high school students in the area and put on a harmony-type show. As of the same week, April 13, we’ve selected eight films with a Joplin actor, scene, or story that ties into Joplin. It will start at Landreth Park and will be free. Films will be screened at different venues from April to July. We will be screening the 1967 Bonnie and Clyde film starring Faye Dunaway. April 13 will actually be the 90th anniversary of the Joplin shooting.
5. How will Joplin’s 150th Anniversary benefit local tourism?
We hope it generates a positive aspect of the city. We want to encourage people to come to the city, make them visit more often and stay longer. We hope to be able to achieve this with all these events.