By Joe Hadsall
Globe Features Editor
JOPLIN, Mo. —
This year's Dancing with the Joplin Stars features something new to the event: Spousal rivalry.
"We have a married couple competing against each other," said Kirstie Smith, communications director for the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. "They are each dancing with professional partners, and it's been fun watching them trash talking for the People's Choice award."
The dancers and their instructors have been working for weeks on routines that they will perform for a crowd Saturday, as part of Dancing with the Joplin Stars.
The competing dancers and their professional partners are:
Past winners include Allison Croghan, of KSNF, Shelly Kraft, of Kraft Insurance Services and Police Chief Lane Roberts.
In its fourth year, the event raises money for the chamber's Art in Public Places project. Past projects include murals along Main Street and a work by Anthony Benton Gude, grandson of Thomas Hart Benton, inside Joplin City Hall.
Dancers are chosen based on recommendations from the community and other suggestions, Smith said. A committee pares down the names to a short list, then awards spots based on contestants' willingness and schedules.
Smith said the chamber is thrilled that the success of the event has led to consecutive sell-outs Ñ a crowd of 400 is anticipated to pack event space at Downstream Casino.
"People are supportive of the cause we're raising money for," Smith said. "But it's really just a fun event. It's a different event, where it's fun to watch the dancers.
"This is not amateur hour. This is great dancing."
Set up similar to the TV show "Dancing with the Stars," Joplin celebrities perform two dances with a professional instructor: A waltz and a couple's choice. Dancers are evaluated by a group of judges based on technical skill and performance.
This year's judges include Globe Publisher Mike Beatty, Randy Kraft, of Kraft Insurance Services, Kathy Watson, of Cable One, Sloane Hanson and Bernadette Carmichael.
A People's Choice winner is determined by votes from the public, which cost $2 each. Votes may be made at the event or on the chamber's website, joplincc.com.
Want to watch?
Tickets will be hard to get for Saturday's Dancing with the Joplin Stars Ñ the event has sold out. But those who miss the chance to see it in person can watch it live on The Joplin Globe's website, joplinglobe.com.
The broadcast is presented by the Globe, with the assistance of KGCS-TV. Tiffany Alaniz, of KODE-TV, will host the broadcast, which begins at 8 p.m.