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The Joplin Globe, Mo., Jo Ellis Column: Jo Ellis: Summertime, and the Living is Busy

June 24, 2008

By Jo Ellis, The Joplin Globe, Mo.

Jun. 23–It’s summertime, and the living is easy. But while the living may be easier, it certainly seems busier. This week in Carthage is no exception.

From Wednesday through Sunday, a chautauqua will be in Carthage and Webb City, presenting first-person interpretations of four important Americans who in one way or another added to our lives, and who continue making us laugh, cry and wonder.

They are Walt Disney, cartoon animator and theme park developer; P.T. Barnum, 19th century traveling circus czar; Margaret Mitchell, author of America’s ultimate Civil War story, “Gone with the Wind”; and Thomas Edison, the inventor whose work was a catalyst for so many of today’s entertainment devices.

Disney has a connection to Missouri. Did you know that Disney World’s Main Street is patterned on his recollection of Main Street in Marceline? He spent some of his formative years in that area, from the ages of around 5 to 10.

In addition to dramatic personal interpretations, movies, educational lectures and youth programs will be offered in various locations in Carthage and Webb City. You can even see a video of the first Mickey Mouse cartoon with sound.

Powers Museum has set up a special exhibit, “Entertaining Carthage Through the Years,” which looks at entertainment venues — from Lakeside Park to opera houses and movie theaters, to fairs and festivals throughout the city’s history. Michelle Hansford, museum curator, will give a program at 2 p.m. Thursday on what chautauquas were like, and some of the important figures from the late 19th and early 20th centuries who came to Carthage as speakers. The program schedule and location of each event can be found at www.powersmuseum.com or by calling (417) 358-2667.

I rarely look back in this column, but the cancellation of Kids Fishing Day on June 14 deserves mention. Rising floodwater from Spring River inundated the entrance to Kellogg Lake Park, the usual parking section, and the area where the food tent and conservation education stations usually are set up. Department of Conservation agent Kevin Badgley reluctantly canceled the event early that morning.

But true fishermen cannot be discouraged by a little water. Kids and their parents showed up anyway. The drive around the eight-acre lake was lined with vehicles, and the lake bank was full of kids trying to fish. Although it was impossible to dish up our normal hot dogs, chips and soda, we did give everyone a Popsicle.

“We anticipated parking and crowd issues due to the limited space, but the only real issue was running out of bait,” Badgley said. “Luckily, several volunteers and the rising river brought in about 10 pounds of gigantic night crawlers to boost the supply. We had over 300 kids by 10 a.m., and by noon we had an estimated attendance of 700.”

Badgley and fellow agents Jeff Cantrell and Jon Carr assisted with the event, along with volunteers recruited by the Kellogg Lake Nature Center and Preserve. So, although it didn’t “happen,” it was a success!

Address correspondence to Jo Ellis, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, Mo. 64802.

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