Over the last five years SpoFest, an organization that provides a venue for local writers and musicians, has grown. On Monday, the group will present a special event at State Fair Community College titled SpoFest “Back To School.”
“If you are an athlete at SFCC, you get to showcase your talent in basketball games,” Spofest Treasurer Debbie Noland said. “Students in the visual arts have the annual art show, and those in theatre and music plays have plays and concerts.
“SpoFest is excited to partner with SFCC to provide a venue for students who write original poetry, prose and music,” she added. “We feel strongly that the talent of writing is also deserving of its own showcase event.”
Information provided by Noland states SpoFest began with roots in a Creative Writing class taught at SFCC in the early 1990s. During the class, SpoFest founder James Bryant and Noland “crossed paths.”
Bryant said he is looking forward to the event that will feature several new readers.
“It is my hope that this event will be the beginning of a long partnership with the college,” he added.
Noland, an author who is also a former SFCC instructor of creative writing, composition and literature, said she hopes the presentation will become an annual event.
The “Back to School” event is specifically for both current and former SFCC students and staff, including those who have retired or have SFCC connections. SpoFest is hoping to encourage new readers to join the group for future performances. The SFCC event will be drawing from a new “element” of readers.
“Seven of the 12 performers in this show have never read or performed with SpoFest before,” Noland noted. “We are always interested in welcoming new talent along with our regulars to keep our programs interesting and fresh. (The event) will give us a more diverse dynamic.”
She added that she is looking forward to hearing the new participants’ presentations.
Three new participants for the event will be AFS student Julie Kleijweg, of the Netherlands, providing music and vocals, Joseline Gonzales, a SFCC student form La Ceiba, Honduras, and Ken Anderson, husband of SFCC President Dr. Joanna Anderson.
Information provided by Noland said that when Kleijweg was given the choice between SFCC and colleges in Washington state, Washington D.C. or California, she chose SFCC. Kleijweg will be staying with Doug and Connie Kiburz while attending SFCC. She is a fan of music from the ‘60s and ‘70s, especially The Beatles, and she will play her guitar and sing at Monday’s event.
Gonzales is attending SFCC due to family tradition. She came to America to study because of her brother Juan Molina, now a sergeant at Whiteman Air Force Base, and her sister Eliveth Gonzales. Her sister went to SFCC, then to the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg. Gonzales, an experienced essay writer, plans to read original poetry during the event.
Anderson, also an essay writer, was inspired to write cowboy poetry when he attended the Trail’s End Western Heritage Days event on the Missouri State Fairgrounds in April. He will read “Missouri Walt;” it will be the first poem he has written since his high school days in Stockton.
Other readers include SFCC Creative Writing Instructor Dustin Walbom, Dr. Douglas Kiburz, Connie Koch, and students from Noland’s SFCC LifeForce “The Poem and You” class, Jean Healan, Faith Bemiss, Ramona Miller, Kat Boyd, Madge Gressley and Diann Grable.
“There is something special when this amount of creative energy gathers in one place at one time,” Noland said. “It offers the opportunity to listen, learn and to be inspired.”
SpoFest “Back To School” will run from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday in the Thompson Conference Center inside the Heckart Science and Allied Health Building at SFCC. The public is invited to attend. The event will feature an intermission with refreshments, SFCC trivia and a door prize drawing. Admission is free.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.