Fancy hats, moustaches and smiles were plentiful on opening day of the 2016 Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival as children got a taste of art, crafts and lively piano music.
The festival opened Wednesday morning in State Fair Community College’s Stauffacher Center for the Fine Arts. While ragtime musicians tickled the ivory for Scott Joplin fans in the Parkhurst Commons, children were decorating period hats and going on the Joplin Ragtime Treasure Hunt in the Goddard Gallery.
Karen Foster, a Scott Joplin International Ragtime Foundation board member, coordinated the Festival’s first-ever treasure hunt with artists from the Sedalia Visual Art Association, Open Door Service Center, the Summer Food Program and the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art.
Foster came up with the idea of pairing art with ragtime music titles and presented the notion to SVAA. The members decided to coordinate their annual show with the Daum Museum to coincide with the Scott Joplin Festival.
Foster then constructed the treasure hunt for children as well as adults. By noon Wednesday, Foster and volunteers were busy as children began arriving, including preschool students from Melita Day Nursery. She expected an additional 30 children to be brought by bus from Open Door’s Summer Food Program.
Foster added that the treasure hunt was going well and she hoped to plan it again for next year’s festival. She was also happy to see parents helping their children with the treasure hunt.
“I think that’s good too,” she said. “We talk about the music covers and they are seeing the art.”
For the craft area she would like to add more table space next year so the children could spread out as they work on the projects.
“I see ways for it to improve,” she noted.
Several volunteers helped with the crafts, including Karren and Jim Gebhart, Mary Jo Antibus, Katie White and Jennifer Neighbors. Decorations for the Joplin era hats, such as buttons, feathers, and ribbons, were donated by the Open Door Service Center.
Karren Gebhart said she was enjoying watching the children’s faces as they created hats, moustaches and original projects.
“There was this cute little boy and he was so serious about his project,” she said. “Instead of making an armband, he decided he was going to make a watch, and then he wanted his watch hands to move. My husband helped him a lot and he managed to make him happy.
“Then he decided he wanted a moustache, which he put on upside down,” Gephart added. “Then he put his little hat on with the elastic, instead of under his chin, under his nose. He was just adorable.”
She added that the group didn’t know what to expect when they began planning the event, but noted the project looked to be taking off well.
“It’s kind of a stopover between the musical concert and the treasure hunt,” she noted. “It keeps them occupied and it’s really worked well for them.”
Local piano teacher and Scott Joplin Festival aficionado Mary Jo Antibus was pleased at how well the treasure hunt and crafts were being received.
Antibus said she has attended all of the festivals since the first in 1974. She also loves making and decorating hats and has approximately 50 representing different eras.
“I’ve always been interested in hats,” she said. “I have 1902 and 1908 Sears catalogs that they republished maybe 30 years ago. They have all these wonderful vintage outfits in there. That’s where I get the ideas when decorating my own hats.”
Antibus brought along black-and-white copies on the catalog’s pages to set on the tables for children to look at as they decorated their hats.
“Those pictures there are from 1902,” she added. “That was the era of the big hat, and women just loved them. They wouldn’t go out without a hat on.”
Foster added that she hopes to bring the children’s crafts back again next year.
“The board has voted that next year, Wednesday won’t be an official day with paid performers,” she noted. “I said ‘It’s a great place to have things for children.’ So what we’re thinking is … we’ll sign up local amateur people to play on Wednesday, it won’t be paid performers.”
If possible she plans to add more children’s activities and added that the treasure hunt may be back if SVAA artists agree to coordinate their show with the festival.
“I thought it was a real nice collaboration and I’m pleased with how it turned out,” Foster said. “They are very talented people.”
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.