The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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October 13, 2012

Turning over new leaves: Cruise night, chili cookoff added to Maple Leaf festival

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Participants in the popular Maple Leaf Car Show can get a head start this year with a cruise night the night before the car competition.

The cruise night was added to offer another activity for some of the hundreds of competitors who bring their vehicles to Carthage for the annual show, said Larry Cleary, president of the car show committee.

Cruise on in

The show normally attracts around 450 vehicles, and Cleary said the cruise night will give participants a chance to visit, eat and register in advance of the car show.

“We also offer online registration and send out fliers,” he said. “But last year we had more than 200 cars register the day of the show, so we think this will help.”

Maple Leaf events have grown in recent years to a festival that starts the week before the parade. The Maple Leaf quilt show already is under way at the Powers Museum and the Carthage downtown artwalk is set for 6 p.m. today on the courthouse square.

“The response to all this year’s Maple Leaf activities has been exceptional,” said Mary Jo Little, with the Carthage Chamber of Commerce, which is the overall Maple Leaf sponsor. “Parade entries are filling up quickly along with everything else. We’re all very excited about this year’s Maple Leaf.”

Chili fest, dog competition among new events

Also new to Maple Leaf festivities are two events set for Oct. 21, the day after the parade. A Maple Leaf Chili Fest -- a CASI sanctioned chili cook-off and salsa competition -- will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Municipal Park. Those who want to sample the competition can do so by buying a $2 tasting kit.

The Maple Leaf K-9 Leap and Dash will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Jasper County Fairgrounds inside Municipal Park.

“This is a new event and an opportunity for working dogs to come out and show their skills. There will be an obstacle course, Frisbee throw and other competitions,” Little said.

In its 32nd year, the car show is one of the longest running events of the Maple Leaf Festival, after the original marching band competition spawned a parade that has grown to one of the largest in the region.

“The car show’s always been popular, but when we moved from the square it got even more popular because people like the location. It gets bigger and better every year, just by word of mouth,” Cleary said.

The show is held on the grounds of the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix at Fairview and Grand Avenues. In addition to the show, swap meet and car corral, the site is a self-contained entertainment venue with food vendors and inflatables for children. And transportation is provided back and forth between the show and the courthouse square, where most other Maple Leaf activities are centered.

The car show includes competition in 26 different classes of vehicles, from the 1930s to today, including cars no longer in production such as the Studebaker and Packard.

“We have everything from street rods, to custom cars, to brand-new Mustangs and Camaros, pick-up trucks, off-road vehicle, everything,” he said. “So people can see a lot of good quality cars and if they’re into building cars, they can get lots of ideas.”

Trophies will be awarded to the top three vehicles in each of 26 classes. O’Reilly Automotive is the primary show sponsor.

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