Our popular annual activities and festivals.
The top events scheduled in and around Joplin each year reflect our community’s passion for the arts, history, music, physical activity, and just being together.
First Thursday Artwalk: People stroll among the city’s many art galleries while enjoying exhibits by local artists and live musical performances at this event, which takes place from March through October.
Third Thursday: Main Street between First and Seventh Streets is abuzz with activity from March through October on the third Thursday of each month. Attractions include a maker’s market, live performances, vendor tents, and dozens of food trucks. Downtown galleries and restaurants feature art displays and there are plenty of fun, kid-friendly activities as well. The experiences change as the themes and sponsors shift each month.
PhotoSpiva: The George A. Spiva Center for the Arts has offered this contest for more than 40 years. It is open to all amateur and professional photographers in the U.S. It lasts 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 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 everyone. A portion of the proceeds from each race goes back to the memorial and rebuilding efforts.
Joplin Truckers Jamboree: Every year, this two-day rally celebrates truckers, giving the community a chance to learn more about them and the rigs they drive. The event takes place at the Joplin 44 Petro Truck Stop and includes an antique truck display, live music, carnival games, and fireworks.
MSSU Shakespeare Festival: Celebrating William Shakespeare’s most beloved works, this festival takes place over two weekends each year. Performances are presented by the theater department of Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) at the Bud Walton Theatre on the campus of MSSU.
Independence Day Festival: Fireworks are the star of the show at this Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) hosted event. Festivities include family activities, live music, and food vendors which are scattered throughout Fred G. Hughes Stadium at MSSU.
Summer Roundup Triathlon: This three-part event is the largest open water triathlon in the Midwest. The race begins in the north of Joplin and includes a variety of distances, including the Olympic distance of a 1,500 meter swim, 40K bike course, and a 10K run.
Carver Day: Each year, Carver Day commemorates the life of George Washington Carver and takes place on the second Saturday in July at the George Washington Carver National Monument in nearby Diamond. The celebration is free to the public and features speakers; storytellers; and live music with local blues, jazz, folk, and gospel performers.
Emancipation Days: Celebrate African American heritage with this annual cultural festival. Highlights include live gospel music, historical reenactments, a car show, and a movie in the park. It takes place at Ewert Park the first weekend of August.
Shoal Creek Water Festival: Splash into summer with this family-friendly event and its many water-focused activities for both children and adults. Prizes are available for annual contests including a cardboard boat competition, rubber duck race, and a kayak slalom. The festival is organized by the Wildcat Glades Friends Group.
JOMO PrideFest: Presented by JOMO Pride Inc., JOMO Pridefest is Joplin's premier, two-day LGBTQ+ Pride Festival, now held in the heart of Downtown Joplin. This annual, growing festival is dedicated to providing a safe space for local LGBTQ+ members, their families, and supporters to celebrate and be themselves. The event features vendors, food trucks, entertainment, music, games, a Pride Mimosa Breakfast, Pride in the Park, and more.
Svitak Freedom Ride: There are five route choices in this annual bike ride - 10, 25, 40, 67, and 100 miles. The event is held in the memory of a fallen soldier from the Joplin area, Phil Svitak, and raises funds to buy bicycles for the children of military families at Christmastime.
Carl Junction Bluegrass Festival: Thousands will flock to neighboring Carl Junction for the live music, games, and food offered at this annual three-day, family-oriented festival. Performances by local bluegrass bands are the main feature of the event, as well as a car and bike show, food and craft vendors, raffles, and a variety of children’s activities. The weekend also features a Friday Family Fun Night and the Sunday Pickin’ and Picnic’n community picnic.
Prairie Day: Travel back in time and enjoy the traditional activities found on the Missouri prairie in the late 1800’s. Celebrated on the second Saturday in September at the George Washington Carver National Monument in nearby Diamond, this family-friendly event includes activities like candle-making, basket-weaving, Dutch-oven cooking, music, quilting, and more.
Alpha Airfest: Take to the sky during this two-day event presented by the Joplin Regional Airport and AlphaAir. A variety of vintage planes, rocket trucks, and historic displays will be showcased. Air performers such as wing walkers stage live demonstrations and plane and helicopter rides are offered. Food vendors and bounce houses are also featured. 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 is held each year at Mercy Park in Joplin. This two-day event celebrates regional and national artists by exhibiting their 2D and 3D creations. It is presented by the Kiwanis Club of Joplin in conjunction with the Joplin Regional Artists’ coalition, Connect2Culture, and Spiva Center for the Arts.