The Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival has a lineup of performers from across the country, which in turn attracts visitors from all over the United States.
Some visitors are from Sedalia and spend a few hours at the festival since it’s in their backyard, but others travel for miles to hear the ragtime performers.
Lori Ciccone and Arrianna Ciccone, along with Rick Kell, didn’t have far to travel — they’re all Sedalia residents. Lori said they’ve been to a few festivals, but Kell said he comes every year “for the music and street food.”
All three are pianists — Kell is a retired music teacher who has “loved ragtime all my life,” and Arrianna is just starting out.
“She’s a budding young piano player, she’s learning,” Kell said of Arrianna.
The trio said they started their afternoon on Thursday at the Maple Leaf Park venue and made their way down to the Stark Pavilion “to see what each one had to offer.”
“I’ve enjoyed it, I love the casual atmosphere,” Kell said. “My great-uncle taught me how to play the ‘Maple Leaf Rag.’ It was the first adult song I learned to play.”
Lori and Arrianna said they enjoyed watching a duet at the Gazebo venue and Kell said he enjoyed seeing some female performers at the festival for the first time. They all agreed all the performers are talented musicians.
“Their hands move so fast, they don’t stay in one place for long,” Lori said.
“And that’s the hard part,” Arrianna was quick to add, with a laugh from Lori and Kell.
One of the farthest visitors was Bridget Calzaretta, who traveled all the way from Washington, near Seattle, to make her first visit to the festival.
“I came because I’m a music fan and a dancer,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to come but never had the time.”
Calzaretta, who plans to be at all four days of the festival, spent part of Thursday afternoon at the dance instruction session, learning period dance steps with Paul Asaro, of Chicago, one of the festival performers.
Shirley Donahue, of Lee’s Summit, and Pat Hankins, of Blue Springs, had a much shorter drive than Calzaretta, but they were also making the trip to the Scott Joplin Festival for the first time. The friends found a bench on the courthouse lawn to enjoy the music at the Stark Pavilion, with both bobbing their heads to the music and commenting on how good the talent was.
Hankins said her dad was a trumpet player who took the family to different musical events, so she wanted to visit the festival because she’s “always loved this kind of music.” Donahue said she has also always liked ragtime music, and that they both like to visit local events and festivals when they can.
Bill and Pat Goetz, of Jefferson City, said they’ve been to the Scott Joplin Festival nine times, and that last year was the first year they missed it since they began visiting.
“We like the music, and the outdoor venues are really nice,” Bill said. “Fresh air and ragtime.”
The couple fits as much ragtime into one day as they can each year, along with visiting a few Sedalia antique stores. They said they don’t make a plan for who to see, rather they just try to see as many as possible.
“Tex (Wyndam) is my favorite because he sings along and tells stories about ragtime,” Bill said after the couple finished listening to Wyndam’s set at the Gazebo venue.
Barbara Poole and Dale Wright, both of St. Louis, were visiting the Scott Joplin Festival for the third year on Thursday, and said they come for the music.
“These are world-class piano players,” Poole said. “It’s a special opportunity to hear these guys. They’re very entertaining. It’s a good summer outing.”
The pair arrived in Sedalia Thursday afternoon and already had a few yellow highlighter marks in their program, indicating which performers they had seen. They also were making notes of which performers they still wanted to hear Thursday and today. Poole and Wright both said Bryan Wright was their favorite performer, and they also enjoyed Paul Asaro and Stephanie Trick.
“They’re all great. You can’t miss them,” Poole said of all the festival performers. “They’re all wonderful. It’s well worth the drive.”