Sedalia resident Nancy Moss, a long-time supporter of the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival, was presented with the event’s first Chrysanthemum Award Wednesday evening.
The surprise award was presented after intermission during the festival’s opening event featuring ragtime musician Paul Asaro at the Hayden Liberty Center Association for the Arts. Moss received the award from Scott Joplin International Ragtime Foundation Artistic Director Brian Holland.
“I’m truly honored,” Moss told the crowd. “I want to thank all of you, especially my family, and my husband who put up with me in my Scott Joplin mode for more than 23 years.”
A beaming Moss also thanked the Scott Joplin board members.
“We have been a very good, hard-working board the last 20 years,” she said. “And I want to thank our performers. And, we couldn’t do it without all you ragtime fans, who are loyal to us and come every year.”
Scott Joplin International Ragtime Foundation President John Simmons said earlier in the day the honor is a “pinnacle” award and won’t be given annually. Instead, the award will be presented periodically to those who are found to be a “curator of ragtime culture,” someone who shows a love and deep appreciation for ragtime music plus through their volunteerism demonstrates a tireless devotion to the festival.
Moss was nominated for the annual Outstanding Achievement Award by Holland. When the board looked over the nomination they decided to create a new award.
“This award goes to that individual within the ragtime community who’s just been steadfast,” Simmons said. “We looked at Nancy and thought this is a good time to begin a new award. Nancy has been an incredible part of the festival, since I started working with the Scott Joplin Festival in ’96.
“She was a board member then, and I just know she is just so focused on details,” he continued. “And she has a wealth of knowledge over the years of the mechanics of the festival; she’s an indispensable board member who thinks ragtime all year round.”
For 45 years, Moss, a charter member of the board, is one of a few people who have attended every Scott Joplin Festival. For 28 years, she has given monetary donations and has served on the board for 22 years.
Moss began the festival’s Hospitality Room 20 years ago to provide refreshments for the ragtime musicians between performances. For 19 years she has obtained, planted, watered and cared for flowers at Maple Leaf Park.
In 2015, two months before the festival, and after the untimely death of Foundation Executive Director Tabitha Lazenby, Moss acting as vice president helped produce that year’s festival. Working alongside former Hayden Liberty Center Executive Director Terri Ballard and former Foundation President Donal Buckner, the 2015 festival was a success.
Simmons noted Moss anchors the rest of the board and keeps them on task.
“She’s got that institutional knowledge and you can count on Nancy not to let something slip by,” he added. “I can’t say enough about her focus, her passion and duty.”