Third Thursday

A few years ago, when I first heard a friend throw out the term “Third Thursday,” I thought she was merely referring to a day that was near the weekend, and near the end of the month – kind of a weekend wannabe. I had no idea that she was talking about an actual organized event held in downtown Joplin.

 

But times have changed.

 

These days, most everyone I talk to in Joplin has either heard of – or been to – Third Thursday. This event’s popularity has grown, along with its number of vendors and attendees.

 

But if you’ve never been to a Third Thursday and are wondering what all of the excitement is about, here’s what you can expect.

 

There’s art, music, dancing, food, shopping, giveaways, a car show, activities for kids – you name it. It’s a day when the spotlight is on downtown Joplin, highlighting the unique businesses, restaurants and cultural amenities that make our city vibrant.

 

third thursday 2016

On the third Thursday of each month from March through October, Main Street is blocked off from car traffic and transforms into a pedestrian area between First and Seventh Streets, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Performance stages, vendor tents and food trucks are set up on the street, and downtown buildings open their doors to feature art displays.

 

One thing that really impressed me on a recent Third Thursday was the multitude of food trucks and vendors that now participate in the event.

 

third thursday harvs bbq

These vendors offered a wide range of food choices: King’s Kettle CornAJ’s Eatery (BBQ), Carmine’s Woodfired PizzaSweet Emotion (hand-dipped chocolates and fruit), and SnowFlakes Shaved Ice.

 

third thursday pineapple bliss

Tip: If the you see the Pineapple Bliss truck at Third Thursday, get in line immediately!

 

We initially walked past it when there was a handful of people anxiously anticipating their fruity soft serve treats, and we thought we’d come back when the line went down. Ha ha! Later on, the line was snaking halfway down the street.

 

In addition to the food trucks, downtown restaurants are open during Third Thursday, and several of them offer extended patio areas that spill out into the streets, like this one from the hip lounge and restaurant Infuxn.

 

third thursday infuxn

When we were done grazing through the food vendors, we walked around and checked out the artists on display. Here are some that caught my eye:


third thursday barrel werksBarrel Werks’ home furnishings are made from retired wine barrels.

 

third thursday penny fairmanPenny Fairman Art (Penny is a Kansas City artist with family in the Joplin area)

 

third thursday downingCorey Downing creates art from vinyl LPs

 

third thursday hannah snowJoplin artist Hannah Snow

 

If seeing this artwork awakens the inner artist in you, there are several downtown studios open during Third Thursday to accommodate your burning desire, including Firehouse PotteryRSVPaint, and Local Color Art Gallery (a few blocks south on Main Street).

 

third thursday rsvp

Art is not only something to appreciate visually; sometimes we drink and eat it. Some of the Third Thursday artisans offering ingestible art were:

 

third thursday bearded lady

Bearded Lady Roasters

 

third thursday home brewJoplin Home Brew Club (crafting beer is an art, too)

 

third thursday grannys goodiesDog treats from Granny’s Goodies

 

I think Granny sold out of her dog treats within the first hour due to the incredibly high number of canine attendees that night. Hey, doesn’t everyone – and every dog (on a leash, of course) – deserve to have fun night out?

 

Going to Third Thursday also gives me the chance to browse through my two favorite downtown boutiques, since they keep their doors open during the event:  Sophie and Blue Moon Boutique. For people who are into fitness, a downtown store worth visiting is Runaround Running & Lifestyle Co., which has an experienced and helpful staff that can help with your running/walking needs.

 

So with looking at artwork and browsing through stores, it sounds like kids would be bored stiff at Third Thursday, right? Wrong! There were bounce houses, interactive booths, a man making animals out of balloons, and the Art Feeds’ bus which is there each month with a fun art project for the kids to do.

 

Third Thursday Art Feeds

Another Third Thursday tradition is having your picture taken in 9Art Photography’s themed photo booth. Can you guess what the theme was for our session?

 

third thursday 9 art photo

My facial expression might lead you to think that it’s “I just bit into a sour lemon” day, but the theme was actually “Windy Day.”

 

Another fun Third Thursday photo op is having your picture taken in this ginormous rocking chair in front of the former Joplin Public Library.

 

third thursday rocking chair

For vintage and muscle car buffs, there’s a section near First Street that’s reserved for displaying cars. It was also a big hit for people whose favorite color is orange.

 

third thursday orange carShe loves orange!

 

While walking between exhibits, we passed several performance stages where local dancers and musicians were entertaining the crowd.

 

third thursday twirlSometimes the music just moves you…

 

We detoured off of Main Street to catch a performance of one of my favorite local singers, high-schooler Olivia Wu, who was playing at Joplin Avenue Coffee Company.

 

third thursday olivia wu

My middle daughter and I chilled out in the comfy coffee house chairs and listened to Olivia’s mind-blowing voice while my husband took my youngest daughter to the bounce houses – again.

 

At Third Thursday, everybody’s happy, and everybody wins.

 

Third Thursday sunset

Third Thursday events are organized by the Downtown Joplin Alliance. 

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Joplin Empire Market

It’s Friday night, and I pull my minivan up to the ATM. I’m as fired up as a high schooler getting cash before heading out on a big date. I do have a date of sorts – with my daughter. The following morning we are going to Joplin Empire Market.

 

Yes, I’m fired up about a market. But this isn’t just a place to pick up a few produce items; Joplin Empire Market is a weekly event that showcases local products and local talent, and fosters a sense of connection in our community.

 

joplin empire interior

I know that I will see some vendors whose storefront businesses I’ve visited and written about before, and I’ll also discover new vendors, as they rotate each week at the market. I know I’ll also get to visit with the ever-present market coordinator Ivy Hagedorn, as well as Lori Haun, Executive Director of Downtown Joplin Alliance, an organization created to foster the revitalization in the heart of our city. Joplin Empire Market is the result of this organization’s latest effort to do just that – and it’s off to a great start in its debut season.

 

 

Where It’s At

When you see the oversized yellow rocking chair on 4th Street, you’ll know you’ve arrived.

 

joplin empire market chair1

Housed in a 1907 building that was donated to Downtown Joplin Alliance by Empire District Electric Company, this enclosed, year-round market features vendors from a 150-mile radius selling produce, meats, eggs, local products, crafts, and art. There’s a huge parking lot on the east side of the building, so you always know that you’ll find a spot nearby.

 

The market’s open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Can I just take a second here to say how much I love these hours? I can still sleep in and get my market fix.

 

joplin empire market outsideA market report is posted on Joplin Empire Market’s Facebook page each week listing the vendors that will be attending that Saturday, which I find  helpful for formulating a game plan before I hit the market. To follow the market’s Facebook page, click here. If you want an overview of the market experience, keep on reading.

 

 

Plants and Produce

When I see the variety of plants and produce offered at the market, I often think, “They grew that around here?” I tried growing a garden one year and it yielded just one cucumber and a handful of strawberries, so I have a great respect for those who cultivate gardens which produce bountifully, like Green’s Greenhouse & Garden, Our Little Piece of Heaven, OakWoods Farm, Joplin Greenhouse & Garden Center, and Robertson Family Farm (you can also visit this farm to pick your own blueberries during the season; click here to read more about it).

 

joplin empire oakwoodsjoplin empire joplin greenhouse

If you’re hankering for seasonal items like berries and tomatoes, make sure to arrive at the opening of the market, as they sell out quickly.

 

 

Meat, Eggs, and Baked Goods

If you’re a conscientious carnivore, you can buy eggs, pork, and grass-fed beef at Black Cat Barnyard, “a family farm that focuses on raising pastured animals that lead happy lives.” Fleetwood Farmette also sells eggs as well as baked goods, including cheesy bread and sweet bread.

 

On my first trip to the market, I arrived around 11 a.m. and Marty Yates, the Bearded Baker, was standing behind his empty booth, since all of his artisan bread loaves were already sold out. So the following week, I got to the market earlier and was able to snag one of his Nonie loaves, which we ate with dinner that night. Who am I kidding? After eating half of that dense and hearty loaf myself, that bread was my dinner that night!

 

joplin empire bearded

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, check out the artisan cookies at All Mixed Up Bakery. For people who enjoy sweets but have special dietary needs, stop by Sugar Creek Bakery, which offers sugar-free and gluten-free baked goods.

 

joplin empire all mixed up

This fishie from All Mixed up Bakery is too cute to eat!

 

 

Unique Area Products

Finding local items that I can gift to my out-of-town friends and family is one way that I like to introduce people to life in the Ozarks, and there are several vendors at Joplin Empire Market that help me out in this endeavor. On a recent trip to visit my parents in Chicago, I brought them a bottle of Savory Sauce (great for marinades and salads), and a shaker of salt from SmokeLicked Salts (hardwood-smoked Atlantic sea salt sold in a variety of flavors – I’m obsessed with the Adobo, which is now a staple in my kitchen).

 

joplin empire savory

The ladies behind Savory Sauce – literally and figuratively 😉

joplin empire salt

Other great local food products include honey from Robertson Family Farm (the blueberry people), and no-sugar-added fruit leathers from Fleetwood Farmette. My daughter loves to eat these and I’m feel good about giving them to her because they’re wholesome snacks.

 

joplin empire robertson

Local honey from Robertson Family Farm

joplin empire fleetwood

Fruit leathers from Fleetwood Farmette

Handmade local products make fun gifts, too. If there’s a man in your life with a beard, Artisan Beardworks can help him keep it neatly groomed with their selection of balm, oil, beard wash, and combs. They also sell boxed sets, which makes gift-giving easy.

 

joplin empire bearded product

 

Artisan Creations

There are vendors at Joplin Empire Market that create unique, non-consumable products, too. These artisans and craftspeople bring an added layer to the market’s offerings. Let’s start with Martha Goldman. In addition selling her art at the market, Martha is also the creative force behind the market’s mural, which was inspired by Joplin’s natural beauty: the bluffs near Shoal Creek, the wondrous (and now-closed) Crystal Cave, wild blackberries, coneflowers, purple-tailed skinks.

 

joplin empire mural

There’s also Stone House Merchant, selling jewelry made from crystals, beads, and rocks, like these stunning wire-wrapped stones featuring the tree of life.

 

joplin empire stone house

The Market Artisans is a group of five woman who rotate selling their goods (jewelry, textiles, pottery, etc.) at the market. One member of this group, Kristin Girard, is a jewelry artist whose work I’ve been a fan of for years, and you can read more about her here.

 

joplin empire market artisans

Fairy Gardens at The Market Artisans booth

 

You can bring home a piece of yesteryear from White Buffalo Sign Company, which creates high resolution scans of original vintage Joplin signs, then applies them to 24-gauge metal.

 

joplin empire white buffalo (1)

 

Market Dining

You don’t have to wait until you bring your edible goodies home from Joplin Empire Market before you indulge. The market features a different food truck each week. Past vendors include The Sweet Truck (gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches), Blondies Woodfired Wheelhouse (pizza), Cochinita Mexican Street Food (their Mexican corn is a must-try), and Take a Stand (featuring smoothies and fresh-pressed juices).

 

If you need a little lift to power through your Saturday, grab a cup of joe from the market’s coffee vendor (Bearded Lady Roasters and Cottage Small Coffee Roasters have been at the market).

 

 

Music and Special Events

The market is more than just a place to buy local produce and goods; it’s a place to connect with the community and to cultivate your own creativity. With live music playing in the background, it’s easy to find inspiration while crafting your own piece of art at special events like Markers at the Market.

 

joplin empire music

My daughter was thrilled when WellSpring Acres brought their sweet alpacas to the market for people to meet.

 

joplin empire wellspring alpaca

Not only was it fun to pet the alpacas, but when we went inside the to the farm’s booth, we found it interesting to see all of the products made from the alpacas’ wool.

 

joplin empire wellspring

Wool dryer balls make an environmentally friendly alternative to paper sheets.

 

The lively, dynamic atmosphere at Joplin Empire Market energizes me each time I go. I leave there not only with bags filled with locally produced items, but with a sense of connection to my community, a community that continues to grow and thrive.

 

 

Ways to Pay for Your Goodies

In addition to good, old-fashioned cash, the market accepts other forms of payment:

 

Debit tokens. If plastic is the only thing you’re carrying in your wallet, you can purchase with your credit card to use at any vendor booth at the market. Vendors can give you cash back, too, so you won’t be stuck with unused tokens.

 

joplin empire market tokens

SNAP/EBT. The market now accepts Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which allows those who qualify to have access to fresh, local fruits, vegetables, breads, meats, and dairy products – basically any food at the market that’s not intended for consumption on site.

 

joplin empire market double bucks

Plus, the Fair Food Network’s Double Up Food Bucks program doubles the value of tokens that recipients spend on fruits and vegetables at the market.

 

 

Market info: The market is open year-round on Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and is located at 931 E. 4th Street. Click here to find the weekly market reports on Facebook, and click here to visit the market’s website.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.