Things to Do in Joplin

Things to Do in Joplin MO


Connect2Culture exists to ignite a passion for the arts, culture and entertainment in Joplin. Founded in 2009, C2C has blossomed into a multifaceted organization in a short time. Unlike any organization in Joplin, C2C is: A respected community arts agency, a visionary leader in development of a Downtown Joplin arts and entertainment complex, and a performing arts presenter.

As an arts agency, C2C provides leadership and support for more than 30 visual and performing arts entities, cultural organizations and public/private school and university programming. C2C’s objective is to create greater visibility for arts and culture, increase public accessibility, and grow audience.

Through social media outlets and a dynamic website, C2C promotes an astounding variety of “things to do” in the Joplin area. Most utilized resources at are its calendar and arts, culture, and public art directories. The Joplin Arts & Cultural Calendar details all performances, events, exhibits and classes. (A bi-weekly e-newsletter is distributed upon request.) The calendar increases audience, avoids scheduling conflicts and facilitates coverage by local media. The Joplin Arts Directory showcases arts and cultural organizations and businesses in Joplin with links to

individual websites. The directory helps residents and visitors discover cultural assets in Joplin. The Public Art Directory is a photographic directory that includes stories and locations of all public art within the city. These resources inform, educate and excite with no cost to local entities.

C2C hosts an annual series of professional development workshops, to educate, empower and connect the arts and cultural community. While topics vary, C2C Roundtables provide training in best practices, and opens lines of communication.

C2C also advocates for the arts at local, state and national levels. Through participation in a recent Americans for the Arts economic impact study, the city learned the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a significant force generating $5.4 million in total economic activity. This spending supports 191 full-time equivalent jobs, generates $3.4 million in local household income and delivers $452,000 in local/state government revenue. These results show supporting the arts enhances both quality of life, and the city’s economic well-being.

C2C’s original focus in 2009 was to develop a visual and performing arts venue. Today, fundraising for the Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex is almost complete. Construction of The Cornell Complex will provide expanded, more suitable accommodations for Spiva Center for the Arts; a home for C2C, a 450-seat multi-functional, performance space, a 1,500-person outdoor amphitheater/festival plaza and more. It will bring major enrichment and revitalization to the heart of Joplin, and hopefully inspire people to live, work, play and stay in Joplin. Completion of this $14-$16 million is expected fall 2021.

Preparing for future responsibilities at The Cornell Complex, C2C became a performing arts presenter in fall 2017 with the Curtains Up Series offering a diverse lineup of national touring artists. In 2017/2018 the series consisted of three shows, expanding to five in 2018/2019.

artwalkJoplin’s thriving arts community comes together to showcase their work in the First Thursday ArtWalk in Downtown Historic Joplin for an evening of art, culture, music and food. From 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., March through October, stroll the downtown district and enjoy unique sights and sounds.

Whether you’re a casual observer or a serious art buyer, you’ll find something to pique your interest among the works of over 30 local artists represented monthly, accompanied by local acoustic musicians. The mission of ArtWalk is to promote a fun and insightful evening for lovers of fine art, and to make works affordable for casual and serious art buyers. Founded in 2008, the event also provides walls and exhibit space as pop-up galleries for artists who don’t have a venue, and promotes the businesses of art in a relaxed evening of eating, drinking and strolling the art.

Just park your car (parking is free) and stroll down Main, Joplin and Wall streets and look for signs on the sidewalks that will point you to the galleries and business pop-ups that are open for this event. ArtWalk is family friendly and accessible for those with disabilities. For more information, visit First Thursday Artwalk Joplin on Facebook or call Linda Teeter (417) 438-5931.

george a. spiva center for THE arts

The MISSION of the George A. Spiva Center for the Arts is to celebrate the creative experience.

Our VISION is to be a community catalyst, joining culture, community, education, business, and the arts as one, endeavoring to be a model for art centers across the nation.

Spiva Center for the Arts offers year-round rotating exhibitions, lectures, classes for children and studio workshops for adults.

  • The Main Gallery hosts a mix of nationally and internationally acclaimed artists and invites emerging area artists to participate in themed group exhibitions.
  • The Center’s Regional Focus Gallery showcases the work of artists who reside within a 200-mile radius of Joplin, Missouri.
  • The intimate Upstairs Gallery is open to artists and artist groups for a rental fee. It is also utilized for special tie-in exhibits, as well as the Third Grade collaborative project, once a year.

Group gallery tours are available by appointment, with a two-week advance notice preferred. Please call to schedule.


Spiva’s educational and outreach programs take place in the galleries, in classrooms and out in the community. They offer creative experiences in art for those as young as pre-school, all the way through adulthood.

Spiva Art Lab
A quick sampling of classes would include summer art camps, after school programs, drawing, working with glass, jewelry making, oil painting and creating with clay. Classes are built around current exhibits and the current season of the year. The instructors are area artists and teachers who love to share their knowledge.

Community Outreach
In a focused effort to make the arts accessible to underserved members of our community, Spiva has designed programs specifically to support military veterans, those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s, people coping with mental illness, and those with disabilities. Classes may be held at Spiva or instruction may take place at residential facilities.


Spiva’s home, in the historic Cosgrove Building, is available to rent for events as diverse as a child’s art themed birthday party, to business receptions, luncheons or formal dinners. The Rachel Salzer Art Library is a private meeting space, perfect for a board meeting or other small function.

Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. or by appointment

Closed Sundays, Mondays,
and major holidays
222 West Third Street, Joplin, MO 64801

JOPLIN history and mineral

Since its founding in 1931, the Joplin History & Mineral Museum has become the community center for area residents and traveling visitors to learn about the historical significance of the city of Joplin and the Tri-State district. The Museum fulfills its role as an active participant in the cultural and educational community by offering a wide variety of exhibits, collections and artifacts all under one roof. It is the historical cornerstone of the city of Joplin and the leader in interpreting and preserving the rich heritage of the region.

Through the years the museum has acquired some outstanding collections. These extraordinary and unique artifacts on display tell a variety of stories. Today the Museum is comprised of the Dorothea B. Hoover Historical Museum, The Empire District Electric Company Museum, Joplin Sports Hall of Fame, the Ned & Helen Aitchison Miniature Circus National Cookie Cutter Museum and the Joplin High-Rose Bowl Parade Collection.

In addition, the impressive Everett J. Ritchie Tri-State Mineral Museum interprets the geology and geochemistry of the Tri-State Mining District. The incomparable mineral specimens on display illustrate the extraordinary history and mining activity of the district.

The story of Joplin is inextricably tied to the fascinating history of lead and zinc mining. The mining industry was not only the driving force of the local economy, but it also influenced language, fashion and social customs.

The Joplin History & Mineral Museum is committed to preserving the past and educating future generations on the prominent history of Joplin.

joplin little theatre

Joplin Little Theatre was formed in 1939 and just completed its 79th season of providing quality live theater to the Four-State area. Its first home was a former movie house with no seats or heat. Then came an auditorium on the second floor of the City Market, with a saloon on the first floor. Next, interest from the Joplin community provided the funding to purchase a stone building on the then outskirts of Joplin, which had been used as a stable for the horses of a riding academy. According to a member’s memory, “It took several months before the ‘horsey’ smell was gone.” Joplin Little Theatre is one of the few community theatres to own its own building.

JLT normally presents five shows a season (two musicals, three plays) for five performances each. It also holds a children’s summer theatre workshop, and presents a summer show targeted for family participation and attendance.

A volunteer 17-member board of directors handles the operations of the Theatre and a volunteer directing staff chooses the shows. When a slate is gathered by the directing staff, it is presented to the board of directors for approval. The goal is to provide quality entertainment to theatre patrons, keeping in mind the culture of the community and the integrity of Joplin Little Theatre that has been gathered over its many years.

Joplin Little Theatre depends on donations, grants and ticket sales for its support. Several fundraisers throughout the season augment its income. Over 400 productions have been staged, over 3,000 people have given their time and talents both on stage and backstage and more than 300,000 people have attended these productions. Nearly every major play and musical that has appeared on Broadway has also been presented on the Joplin Little Theatre stage.

midwest regional ballet

Midwest Regional Ballet Company and School has served the community since 1985-86, as the best in performing arts and in dance education. Former dancers have gone on to careers as professional dancers, actors in movies, dancers in professional touring companies, videos, teachers, cirque companies and schools.

Creative and original works by Artistic Director Kaye Lewis include Nightmare Before Christmas, Alice in Steampunk Wonderland, Dracula, Black and White Series, as well as the classics the Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Cinderella.

Lewis began her training at Piper’s School of Dance in Carthage, Missouri, under the direction of Judy Pendergraft, a former principal dancer with Utah Ballet. Lewis then continued training in Chicago with Gus Giordano, the Godfather of Jazz, Lea Darwin, David Howard, Frank Hatchett and Patsy Swayze. Lewis also trained in a special teachers program at Dallas Met, now Texas Ballet Theater.

Her goal has always been to teach and create art within the community. She recently was awarded the Freeman Women with Heart Award and also the prestigious Arty Award from the Joplin Chamber, both recognizing her work in
the arts.

annual events and festivals

Joplin’s love of the arts, music, physical activity and socializing are all reflected in the top events scheduled in and around the city each year.

Here is a look at some of the most popular activities:


First Thursday ArtWalk
People can stroll among the city’s many art galleries and enjoy live musical performances during this event, which takes place from March through October.

St. Patrick’s Day 15K and 5K
Each year, the Starlit Running Company organizes 5K and 15K runs in downtown Joplin on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day.

Third Thursday
Main Street between First and Seventh Streets is abuzz with activity from March through October on the third Thursday of the month. Attractions include a maker’s market, performance stages, many vendor tents and dozens of food trucks. Downtown galleries and restaurants feature art displays and there are plenty of fun kid-focused activities as well. The experience changes as the themes and sponsors shift each month.

The George A. Spiva Center for the Arts has offered this contest, which is open to all U.S. amateur and professional photographers, for more than 40 years. It is open from March through late April or early May and is the longest running competition of its kind.


Freeman Joplin Memorial Run
Presented by JVM
The two-day event, which includes The Walk of Silence the night before the running events, honors the 161 lives lost when an EF-5 tornado tore through Joplin on May 22, 2011. With a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, relay and kids run, there is a race for just about everyone. A portion of proceeds from each race goes back to the memorial and rebuilding efforts. (


Joplin Truckers Jamboree
Every year, this two-day rally celebrates truckers, giving people a chance to learn more about them and the rigs they drive. The event at the Joplin 44 Petro Truck Stop includes an antique truck display, live music, carnival games and fireworks.

MSSU Shakespeare Festival
This festival, which takes place over two weekends, celebrates Shakespeare’s most famous works. It is presented by the theater department of Missouri Southern State University and takes place at the Bud Walton Theatre at MSSU.


Independence Day Festival
Fireworks are the star of the show at this event, which again takes place at Missouri Southern State University. Festivities include family activities, live music and food vendors.

Summer Roundup Triathlon
This triathlon takes place north of Joplin and is the largest open water triathlon in the Midwest. It includes a variety of distances, including the Olympic distance of a 1,500-meter swim, 40K bike course and a 10K run.

Carver Day
Carver Day commemorates the life of George Washington Carver and takes place on the second Saturday in July in nearby Diamond. The free event includes speakers; storytellers; and blues, jazz, folk and gospel performers.


Emancipation Days
Highlights of the festival include live gospel music, basketball tournament, car show and movie in the park. It takes place at Ewert Park the first weekend of August.

Shoal Creek Water Festival
This family-friendly event includes many water-focused activities, including a cardboard boat competition, rubber duck race and a kayak slalom. The festival is organized by the Wildcat Glades Friends Group and includes several other activities.


Svitak Freedom Ride
There are five route choices in this bike ride – 10, 25, 40, 67 and 100 miles – which takes place in September. It is named after a fallen soldier from the Joplin area and raises funds to buy bicycles for the children of military families at Christmas.

Carl Junction Bluegrass Festival
Thousands will flock to neighboring Carl Junction for the music, games and food at this three-day, family-oriented festival. The event features bluegrass bands, as well as a car and bike show, food and craft vendors, raffles, children’s activities, Friday Family Fun night and Sunday Pickin’ and Picnic’n community picnic.

Prairie Day
Traditional activities that were found on the Missouri prairie in the late 1800s are celebrated on the second Saturday in September at the George Washington Carver Monument in Diamond. Activities include candle-making, basket-weaving, Dutch oven cooking, music, quilting and more.

Alpha Airfest
This two-day event presented by the Jopin Airport and AlphaAir includes a variety of vintage planes, air performers such as wing walkers, rocket trucks, plane and helicopter rides and historic displays. There are also food and beverage vendors and bounce houses. The Airfest takes place the weekend after Labor Day during odd-numbered years.

Joplin Festival of the Arts
Southwest Missouri’s premier fall fine arts festival takes place in Mercy Park in Joplin. The two-day event celebrates artists from a four-state region and beyond who are exhibiting their original 2D and 3D works. It is presented by the Kiwanis Club of Joplin in conjunction with the Joplin Regional Artists’ Coalition, Connect2Culture and Spiva Center for the Arts.

empire marketdowntown

Since the spring of 2018, Joplin’s Empire Market has been helping farmers within 150 miles of Joplin sell their produce and eggs and others in the area sell their bread, honey, artisan goods and even meat to Joplin residents every Saturday year-round from the former Empire District Electric Company building at 931 East 4th Street.

The enterprise is overseen and administered by the Downtown Joplin Alliance, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the revitalization of the downtown community.

The market is open on the first floor of the brick structure from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday, year-round. It currently houses between 20 and 25 vendors each week and is actively recruiting additional growers and vendors. All products are made or grown by the vendor.

“Seventy percent of our vendors are selling food while the other 30 percent are selling artisan goods,” said Lori Haun, Executive Director of the Downtown Joplin Alliance. “It has been very well received and we are now attracting about 500 people each weekend.”

They are boosting attendance at the market by holding special events once each month like a Paris-themed week and a chili cook-off and are working with other local non-profits like Wildcat Glades Friends Group and the Girl Scouts to let them hold activities of all kinds at the weekly market. Fitness classes are even being held at the Empire Market. Upcoming fun events include a summer solstice night-market in June, a Mexican-themed Pepper Fest with a salsa-making contest in August and a Pumpkin Fest in October.

“The Empire building has been great because our market is totally indoors during bad weather and it is heated during the winter,” Haun explained. “And because we are open year-round, we have several local farmers applying for and receiving assistance from the USDA to fund high tunnel greenhouses. Even without them, we are seeing farmers bringing in winter squash, onions, sprouts and eggs year-round. It is neat to watch our local farmers grow their businesses . . . and our other vendors, too. For instance, we have one person who brings elderberry syrup and gluten-free baked goods and another making lemon and lime curd.”

The Downtown Joplin Alliance now has its offices in a small portion of the second floor of the 1907 Empire District Electric Company building and is leasing the rest of the office space to other businesses. They soon plan to kick off a capital campaign to update the building and grounds, build two kitchens for public and educational use, and install an elevator and other improvements for accessibility.

keeping fit and activeJoplin residents love to be active outdoors, whether they’re running, hiking, golfing (regular and disc), canoing, biking or walking.

Thankfully, when the weather is less than ideal, there are plenty of indoor fitness options for them, too.

Here is a look at some of the most popular ways to keep fit and active in the Joplin area:


Runners have plenty of trails to choose from and races to prepare for year-round:

  • Freeman Joplin Memorial Run Presented by JVM, which takes place each May in honor of the 161 lives lost when an EF5 tornado tore through Joplin on May 22, 2011. The event includes a Kids Run, 5K, 10K, half-marathon and relay. A portion of proceeds from each race goes back to the memorial and rebuilding efforts. For the first and last mile of the course, runners go past a display of 161 victim banners. (
  • The Joplin Turkey Trot 5K Run/Walk in Downtown Joplin, which has become a Thanksgiving morning family tradition for many and is presented by the local Starlit Running Company.
  • Several additional runs produced by the local Starlit Running Company, such as St. Patrick’s Day 15k and 5k, Cinco de Mayo 5K & Margarita Mile, Wizarding Run in October and the Ugly Sweater in December.
  • The Chilly 5k, an annual New Year’s Day race, which will be produced by locally based Rufus Racing along with the Joplin Family Y in 2020.
  • If you’re looking for a running group, the Common Grounds club meets at the Joplin Family Y. Also, members of the Joplin Area Roadrunners compete at several events in the Tri-State area.

There are plenty of trails and bike lanes in the area. For example, the Frisco Trail runs from Webb City to Joplin, nearby Carthage has many roads with bike lanes, and the Ruby Jack trail runs from Carl Junction to Carthage.

A featured event is the Svitak Freedom Bike Ride, a charity ride each September that benefits the Svitak Memorial Fund. This fund buys bikes for children of military families at Christmas time. Rides are offered from 10 to 100 miles.

Other events include:

  • Route 66 Mother Road Bicycle Tour,
  • Maple Leaf Bicycle Tour,

Also, weekly bike ride meet-ups are organized by Joplin Cycling and Rufus Racing:

  • Joplin Cycling – Facebook Group –
  • Rufus Racing – Thursday night rides –
Endurance Sports

If you’re into triathlons and other endurance sports in the Joplin area, it’s likely you’ve run across – or might even train with – Rufus Racing, which is an endurance sports management

company based in Joplin. Rufus also has an endurance sports racing team that competes at cycling, running, triathlon and other endurance sports events.

The endurance sports event highlight is the Summer Roundup Triathlon, which is a flat, fast race on a picturesque private lake northeast of Joplin. The July event features several possible races, including super sprint, sprint and Olympic distances for the triathlon as well as a duathlon and sprint relay. (

Indoor Activities

Athletic clubs in the area offer several activities, including weightlifting, exercise classes, yoga, swimming and Zumba.

The top fitness clubs are Joplin Family YMCA, Millennium Family Fitness and Planet Fitness.

outdoorsOn a beautiful day there’s nothing like hopping on a bike or putting on your running shoes and hitting a nearby trail, or taking the entire family to a neighborhood park.

Fortunately, Joplin has plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, either on your own or with a group of friends and/or family.


Ruby Jack Trail: The former railroad line that was converted to a multi-use trail runs for 16 miles between nearby Carthage, Missouri, and the Kansas state line. The trail – which goes through the towns of Carl Junction and Oronogo – can be accessed year-round and includes impressive wildflowers during much of the year. Dogs are also welcome on the trail, as long as they are on a leash. The trail is maintained by the Joplin Trails Coalition, a volunteer group.

Frisco Greenway Trail: The trail runs for about four miles between North Street in Joplin to Highway 171 in Webb City, along the former St. Louis-San Francisco Railway property. The trail is made of firmly packed gravel and is ideal for running, walking or biking. It is also maintained by the Joplin Trails Coalition. The greenway includes plenty of foliage, making it especially appealing during the summer and fall.


Joplin has a wonderful collection of parks that feature a variety of amenities, including:

Campbell Parkway: Located along a portion of Murphy Boulevard from Connecticut Avenue and Campbell Parkway to 20th Street, it includes a 1.8-mile-long pedestrian trail with benches along beautiful greenways, landscaped plots including trees, and Joplin Creek winding through the center.

Cunningham Park: The park at 26th and Maiden Lane offers a variety of activities for users, including a multi-use basketball/soccer court, swimming pool, walking trail, restrooms, two playgrounds, three shelters and a butterfly garden. The park was destroyed in the 2011 tornado, but the community came together to rebuild it.

Ewert Park: There is a picnic shelter, picnic shelter/amphitheater, restrooms, parking lot, tennis courts, skatepark, family aquatic center, playground and basketball courts at the park at 7th and School streets.

Humphrey Park: The facilities at Utica and Independence Avenue include a picnic area, restrooms, paved walking path, playground, parking lot, a basketball court and a large open area for play.

Landreth Park: People can enjoy picnic areas, jogging areas, eight pickleball courts, two shelters, an amphitheater, restrooms, playgrounds, four sand volleyball courts, a softball field and two parking lots at Landreth and Pool Street.

Leonard Park: This park at 4th and Turk, with the main entrance at 4th Street, offers residents a peaceful area for recreation. This park has a picnic shelter, restrooms, paved walking path, playground, a tennis court/pickleball court, parking lot and a large open play area.

McClelland Park: The park at McClelland Park Boulevard and Glendale Road is on a high scenic bluff over Shoal Creek Valley. It has two picnic shelters, restrooms, playgrounds and a Disc Golf Course.

Mercy Park: At 26th and Maiden Lane, this park is the former location of Mercy Hospital before the 2011 tornado and it stands as a remembrance to those who were tragically lost.The facility offers several concrete walking paths, two shelters, restrooms, pond and parking lot.

Parr Hill Park: This property at 15th Street and Kansas offers three shelters, restrooms, basketball court, waterfall feature, paved walking path, playgrounds, exercise equipment, water splash pad, parking lots and a dog park.

Schifferdecker Park: Located at 7th Street and Schifferdecker Avenue, the park is equipped with a variety of playground equipment. It also has an aquatic center, four shelters, three basketball courts, skatepark ramp, inline hockey court, restrooms, 18-hole golf course, 6 hole disc golf course, two sand volleyball courts, parking lots and the Joplin History and Mineral Museum.

Wildcat Park: The park on South Main Street at 55th Street contains picnic facilities, walking trails, fishing, swimming and boating along Shoal Creek. It is the location of the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Shoal Creek Conservation and Education Center.

Altogether, the city has 22 parks maintained by the city and in use all throughout the year.