CARTHAGE, Mo. — Spencer Lines has long been involved in the Maple Leaf Festival, but this year he’s taking his involvement to a new level.

Lines, 16, of Carthage, has planned a new event that he hopes will give families a chance to get out together under the autumn leaves and have fun on the first main weekend of the 54-year-old festival.

“Music Under the Maples” will bring an area band, the Mason Dixon Band and a variety of food trucks to Carthage’s Central Park from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12.

Maple Leaf activities are scheduled here and there pretty much throughout October, but the bulk of the events take place from Oct. 12 to 19.

Music and food

“Basically, it’s a chance to come to Central Park, sit in a lawn chair, listen to music and eat great food,” Lines said. “It’s going to be a night of great music and food trucks.”

According to its Facebook page, the Mason Dixon Band is a four-piece band based in Springfield with a musical background that ranges from classical, gospel, rock, Southern rock, country and alternative.

Lines said he’s been involved in the festival for years — his mother, Trisha Swoveland, has planned the children’s pageants and the Maple Leaf Queen Pageant for a number of years — and he saw a need for something in the first weekend that could allow people to get together and relax.

“I’m a big family person, I love getting people together to celebrate something,” Lines said. “I was thinking about planning an event to get people together, and at first I was just thinking teenagers, so I was thinking about a bonfire or something like that, with music. But then I thought, 'Why should we limit it to teenagers and not do something that everyone can enjoy?'

"So I asked myself, 'What are the things that get people together?' Music and food. We decided to put those two things together to have Music Under the Maples.”

Lines said his “amazing mother” came up with the name.

“I fell in love with the name immediately,” Lines said.

Event planner

He may only be 16, but this is not the first time Lines has taken on the challenge of planning an event that could involve hundreds of people.

When he was 11 and in the sixth grade, he planned a Math Bowl, and it was still being held for sixth graders at the Carthage Intermediate Center as of last spring.

“I had a goal of creating a competition for people who are not that great at spelling but great at math,” Lines said. “I planned the Math Bowl in middle school so people who have talents more in the math side of things could show that off and still feel like they’re competing. They don’t have to worry about how to spell ‘neighborhood’ and instead they can worry about what’s 3 times 5 divided by 2.”

Keeping it fresh

Mark Elliff, president of the Carthage Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the Maple Leaf Festival, said he was glad to see a young person coming forward to plan an event to keep the festival fresh.

“What’s good about this is it’s introducing a new event and it’s one specifically targeting the younger generations to give them another option during the Maple Leaf events,” Elliff said. “As we look forward into the years, looking at Maple Leaf and wanting to keep the traditions going, we do want to look at new events that we feel younger people will enjoy, want to get into and start their own traditions."

Lines said he enjoys helping people, and planning events is a way he can help many people at once.

“Even if it’s helping one single person, I know I helped that one person out that day,” Lines said. “Even if it’s just for that one day, it’s something they can cherish. With the math bowl, again, someone who is great with math, they can show that off and show their skills and feel good about them. With Music Under the Maples, someone might get really into the music and have a great night. Maybe they’re having a bad day, but they can have a great night and feel better. Maybe that’s exactly what they needed.”

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