It might seem frivolous to pick out the best in entertainment in a year where real life played such a prominent role in the lives of Joplin residents.
But it's because of that real-life tragedy that made us cherish the entertainment even more.
Epic new event: Joplin Running of the Bulls
The tornado didn't stop residents' drives to push new festivals, features and other fetes, from Oktoberfest to a Glee-style sing-off. But our favorite was a great twist on a Spanish tradition. A group re-enacted Pamplona's Running of the Bulls, using members of a roller derby team as the bulls. More than 100 ran in the fundraiser for St. Mary's Elementary School. Can't wait to see how big this gets in 2012.
Epic breaking big for a local band: LiveWire
This is a good year for the tater-fed band from the Joplin area. Videos for their songs "Tater Fed" and "Miracle of the Human Spirit" are in rotation on CMT. The band has been featured in Billboard magazine, signed with Way Out West in Nashville and were featured in segments on the "Breaking Out" show on The Country Networks.
Epic tornado-related song: "Naked Trees," by Me Like Bees
It's almost unfair to pick a best tornado song — so many artists have poured their heart and soul into music to help Joplin residents deal with the tornado.
Winning post-tornado celebrity visit: Carlos Mencia
Joplin has received a lot of attention from big names, as big as Katy Perry, Barry Manilow and members of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Epic Moment: JHS lip dub video
But for us, we were suckers for a lip dub video on YouTube.
Winning online app: Spotify
Music's large role in our lives is a big reason we love Spotify so much in the newsroom. It makes sharing music between friends so much easier. But Spotify's service goes way beyond letting the world know how great that new "Foster the People" album is.
Epic tribute to longevity: 25th anniversary of the Kitchen Pass
Back when the worst weather-related thing on our minds was snowmageddon, one of Joplin's longest-running nightspots celebrated a milestone.
Epic moment in history captured by locals: Joplin High School students witnessing history in Washington D.C.
Talk about being in the right place at the right time. As the Constitution Team celebrated a well-earned trip to nationals in Washington D.C., its trip coincided with the announcement of Osama bin Laden's death, and the crazy, street-filling celebration.
Joe's favorite album of 2011: "The Experiment," Art vs. Science
Ever since its February release, I've listened to "The Experiment" countless times. (I guess I could check my iTunes play count. Meh.) Every song on this album is strong.
Scott's favorite book of 2011: "Ready Player One," Ernest Cline
I enjoyed a number of new books in 2011. I welcomed the look back at Jack Reacher's early days in Lee Child's "The Affair"; got wrapped up in the latest Harry Bosch outing in Michael Connelly's "The Drop"; marveled at Stephen King's ability to sustain a story for nearly 900 pages in "11/22/63"; and cheered on the human resistance in Daniel Wilson's "Robopocalypse."
Raised voices: Trio brings energetic, spiritual show to Branson
From singing in church and at their mother's bedside following her near-fatal accident, Michael, Avery and Nadia Cole, the Voices of Glory, have had an effect on people.
Glass instruments featured in special program
Dennis James' obsession started when he was 6 years old. During a visit to the Franklin Museum in 1956, he spotted a glass armonica and was transfixed.
Farm Girl Fest to hold spring event at school
A group that re-creates historic farm life at Red Oak II in Carthage will take their event to school this weekend.
Historic ghost tour features Victorian-era seance
Now the spring season of the historic ghost tours has a new stop: Caldone's After Dark Speakeasy at 218 S. Main.
Rummage sale to benefit foster parents
A rummage sale this weekend will help raise funds for foster parents dealing with cancer.
Dave Woods: Exotic animals provide adventure in Branson
I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into Branson’s Wild World. Neither did Denita Brooks.
Dave Woods: Hamner-Barber veterans tribute raises bar
Dave Hamner and Jim Barber's variety show is filled with magic, music, ventriloquism and, near the end of the show, a veterans tribute like none I had seen before. It brought me to tears and raised the Branson veterans tribute bar for me.
Benji Tunnell: Downey, Black reunite to improve 'Iron Man'
Jon Favreau, director of the first two films, steps aside this time and turns over the reins to co-writer/director Shane Black, allowing a reunion between Black and his "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" star Robert Downey Jr., reprising his role as Tony Stark.
Jeremiah Tucker: Now easier than ever to find new music online
Listening to hours of music every day used to mean turning on the radio and subjecting yourself to programming formats bloated with songs so overplayed that they are the auditory equivalent of putting a wad of pre-chewed gum in your mouth.
Joe Hadsall: 'Orphan Black' features great story, performance
The central story arc of one of the most brilliant shows to hit TV was revealed early in its third episode. Jokes about "Clone Club" and "Attack of the Clones" are running rampant in media coverage of the show, so there's no point in holding that tidbit back, or treating this column with a spoiler alert warning.
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- Raised voices: Trio brings energetic, spiritual show to Branson