By Ryan Richardson
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Philip Mitchell and his professional dance partner Grace Love began practicing for Saturday night’s dance competition months ago.
Mitchell’s wife, Amanda, also was in the competition, but she was paired up with professional dancer Ramon Luna.
“We tried counting the hours that we’ve put in, but the time has been so fun that we lost track,” Philip Mitchell said during the Dancing with the Joplin Stars event at Downstream Casino Resort. He works for KSN-TV; Amanda works for Freeman Health System.
“This was a lot harder and more choreographed than I expected, but my wife and I both have had fun in this rivalry that has developed between us. We were just happy to be part of such a great opportunity for the chamber and the city of Joplin.”
The Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce took recommendations from the community to find this year’s contestants and then paired them with professional dancers to prepare for the competition.
Other dancers were Deb Allison, of Upstairs Boutique, with Seth Harley; Loretta Bailey, of Loretta Bailey Agency, with Joshua Velazquez; Dave Clark, of Downstream Casino Resort, with Kaye Lewis; and Joe Craigmile, of Southwest Missouri Bank, with Krystelle Lamczyk.
In its fourth year, the annual dance competition has turned into a successful fundraiser for the chamber’s Art in Public Places campaign.
The competition is judged by a panel of professional and celebrity judges, with dancers receiving a technical score from the judges. The People’s Choice Award is given to the couple with the most votes from the public and the audience. Votes are $2 each and were purchased online or at the event.
This year’s money will help fund a mural by Garin Baker to be painted on a wall at Corner Greer and Associates, an architectural firm at 716 Main St.
Past projects supported by the event include the mural by Anthony Benton Gude, grandson of Thomas Hart Benton, inside of Joplin City Hall, and other mural projects on Main Street.
Cary Beasley, work force development manager for the chamber, said that the competition has become one of the chamber’s key events.
“This has developed into the signature event for the chamber that we are proud to put on,” Beasley said. “The enthusiasm from the community and the participants is extremely high, so we will continue to move forward with this in the future.”
Beasley said that the chamber expects to bring in more than $5,000 from the event, which was sold out.
“We could be closer to $10,000, based on how high the voting goes,” she said.
Winners of Dancing with the Joplin Stars will be announced in Monday’s edition of The Joplin Globe.