Region gears up for fall festivals, parades

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Summer rains will soon be replaced with crisp autumn air, and this means cities across the region gear up for annual fall festivals.

This year's events include the traditional, such as the popular Maple Leaf Parade in Carthage and the Carl Junction Bluegrass Festival, but also a tribute to Steve Gaines, the Lynyrd Skynyrd band member from Miami, Oklahoma. Also back this year is the World Championship Squirrel Cook Off.

Here are a few events coming to the Four-State Area in September and October:

Festifall

Activities are on tap this week to celebrate the annual Designs of Autumn Festifall, hosted by the Miami, Oklahoma, Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The three-day event will start off with a crab boil at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Miami Civic Center, 129 Fifth Ave. NW. Accompanying live music will be provided by Jacque Garoutte. Reservations are required.

Friday night's activities kick off with the announcement of the winner of the Miami Youth Art Contest, followed by an outdoor movie in the new Art Park, across the street from Coleman Theatre, 103 N. Main St. Snow cones and food trucks will be on-site.

A full day of events is planned from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, including a downtown sidewalk sale, car show, dog show, art walk, athletic competition, kids activities, marching band, live music, and a 70th birthday bash to honor Steve Gaines, the musician from Lynyrd Skynyrd who was killed in 1977 in a plane crash along with his sister, Cassie Gaines, a backup singer for the band.

For details, email chowe@miami-ok.org or call 918-542-4481.

Gem City Days

The 27th annual Gem City Days in Diamond is slated all day Saturday, Sept. 14, at Dieckhoff Park. The free event includes a parade, live music, a car show, a petting zoo, a cake walk, a pet show, a talent show and games. The parade begins at 10 a.m. followed by the pet show at noon. For details, call 417-451-1925.

Joplin Arts Fest

The fifth annual Joplin Arts Fest is set for Friday and Saturday, Sept. 20-21, at Mercy Park. It will include works from more than 40 artists from 22 cities and eight states. A variety of food trucks and live music will be featured during the festival. For details, call 417-529-3730.

D-Towne Jamboree

The annual D-Towne Jamboree and Duenweg Celebration Day starts at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, with the national anthem at the Duenweg Fairgrounds, 18700 Cedar Road.

The celebration features live music from local acts such as Bailey Moore, Erin Fitzgibbon, Diversity Band and Members Only, as well as food trucks, a beer garden, vendors, free children’s activities and a fireworks finale. Admission is $5 per vehicle, with $1 off for each qualified item donated to the Ronald McDonald House. For details, call 417-623-2027.

Arkansas cook-off

The World Championship Squirrel Cook Off has become a popular event in Bentonville, Arkansas, drawing thousands. This year the event takes place Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Benton County Quail Barn in Bentonville. This is the eighth annual cook-off. Previous recipes have included squirrel ice cream, squirrel sausage, pizza, hamburgers, meatloaf, squirrel stuffed pickles, gumbos and pies. Learn more at https://www.visitbentonville.com/event/world-champion-squirrel-cook-off/2528.

Bluegrass Festival

The Carl Junction Bluegrass Festival is set for Friday through Sunday, Sept. 27-29, at Center Creek Park, 201 Valley Lane. The three-day event is the largest and longest running bluegrass festival in the region, and this will be its 22nd year. Admission is always free. There will be craft booths as well as a car and bike show. For details, call 417-649-8846.

Wizarding Run

The second annual Wizarding Run and Fall Festival is slated from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, in downtown Joplin. Participants will experience a magical course with wizardly sights and sounds, as well as a detour through a sinister alley in the last mile. "Harry Potter" and other costumes are encouraged.

Distances include a 5K and a 1-mile Fun Run. The 5K course will start and finish at 511 S. Main St. The event will benefit Fostering Hope, a faith-based, nonprofit organization that aims to serve children in foster care in Southwest Missouri. For more information, visit wizardingrun.com or call 888-417-7223.

Neosho Fall Festival

Neosho’s annual Fall Festival is slated for 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, in the historic downtown. Presented by the city of Neosho, the arts and crafts festival also includes local food trucks, games, live entertainment and more. For details, call 417-451-8050 or visit facebook.com/CityofNeosho/events.

Octoberfest on Main

Following the recent success of Carl Junction’s inaugural Second Tuesday events, the Carl Junction Chamber of Commerce is taking a swing at its first fall festival, Octoberfest on Main. The event is set for 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15, and will feature music, food and crafts. Children are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes, and local vendors will be passing out candy. For details, call 417-649-8846.

Maple Leaf Festival

The 53rd annual Maple Leaf Festival in Carthage runs Oct. 1-31. The festival, named after the changing fall colors, draws up to 80,000 visitors throughout the month. The largest parade in Southwest Missouri is slated from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 19.

The monthlong festival has numerous events, including an arts and crafts show, car and tractor shows, live entertainment, food, an evening 5K, a dog show, a lip-syncing competition and beauty pageants for all ages. For details, visit carthagechamber.com/maple-leaf.

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