With Joplin’s 150th anniversary approaching, the Joplin Celebrations Commission is selling commemorative cookie cutters as their first official fundraiser. The cookie cutters are in the shape of the Joplin city flower, a purple iris.
The money raised will go toward funding the year-long celebration of the city’s 150th anniversary, which will commence in 2022 and go through 2023, as the anniversary’s date itself is earmarked for March 2023. The cookie cutters may be purchased in-person at Joplin City Hall for $10 or $15 for those out-of-town—this fee covers postage and handling; cash and checks made out to City of Joplin are accepted.
“… And because the iris is unique, out at the Joplin Museum is actually the national cookie cutter museum, so Joplin is home to this unique exhibit and people from all over the world stop in to that silly, little exhibit,” said Patrick Tuttle, Joplin Convention & Visitors Bureau director. “It’s quite amazing. So, if you haven’t seen that you need to stop by the Joplin Museum Complex in Schifferdecker Park and check that out. But, that kind of sparked the whole thing. We have people on the committee that are tied to the cookie cutter folks, and they thought it’d be an easy thing to do. So, they tested it, sent it to a company up in Minnesota that actually makes cookie cutters, and they were able to pull off the design and make it a unique piece. …”
As part of the fundraiser, the Joplin City Council gave the commission a two-to-one match, meaning they must raise two dollars for every dollar they receive from the council. This was not the commission’s first commemorative act with the city’s flower in preparation for the 150th anniversary.
“…We did a, the iris has been the city flower for decades and we were looking at what happened with the centennial back in 1973, and there were several things that were done around there with iris gardens and those kind of things, so we’re trying to get a jump on that,” Tuttle said. “So, one of the first things that a subcommittee did was he had several plantings in town of the iris flowers, and it takes about two years for them to really populate to be somewhat unique, so we got those in the ground this year at high schools, at the different schools in town, the hospitals, several private-type places, and we’ll expand that going into the spring and summer of 2021 …”
For the celebration, Tuttle said the commission is planning to put together different ways to commemorate Joplin’s history, starting with the city flower. The purple iris was named the Joplin city flower in 1939, at which time the Garden Club had planted 30,000 iris bulbs along main roadways entering Joplin. This played a large part in the purple iris becoming the city flower.
“… One of the interesting things is we’re trying to get the national group to hold a convention here in 2023, and what that means is that would be some of the most unique new hybrid irises would be coming to town to show-and-tell but also hopefully to plant some of those here,” Tuttle said. “I think when they did that as a city flower they landed on one just to be more specific, but it’s all of them, I mean people have their own colors and variations, and it’s just amazing that there’s so much. And they’re so hardy, they grow and grow, they’re almost weed-like because how much they grow.”
In addition to the commemorative cookie cutters and city flower, the commission is planning the 150th anniversary celebration off of the 100th and 125th anniversary celebrations of the city and finding new ways to commemorate the city’s history. Tuttle said this is likely to include events like parades, concerts, and interactive activities like 150 of something—steps, reading books, writing letters, etc. Tuttle said to “stay tuned.”
“… Starting in probably early ‘22 we’ll start dotting things that are happening,” Tuttle said. “So, events that would happen from July of 2022 through July 2023, we would brand those as part of the centennial activities. So, it may be something that you have going on that’s a regular event, but you’re going to make it in ‘23 or ‘22 something unique to focus on Joplin’s history that we will give that our seal of approval to add that to the calendar that’s going on. So, we don’t expect the commission to plan everything, we will brand other people’s events that have been modified for this timeframe. …”
Tuttle has been involved with previous Joplin anniversaries and he said the most important aspect of the 150th anniversary is passing the city’s history on to younger generations.
“You know, personally being involved—being here as a kid for the centennial and being involved with the 125th, and now the 150th—I think one of the key things is passing it on,” Tuttle said. “I mean, there’s so many of us that are on the commission that were kids, or youth, teens here in ‘73 and we remember what happened, so it’s very important to pass it on to a younger generation. So, if anything we do it’s got to be that we instill in people the pride of their community’s history. You know, people don’t know really a lot of some of the unique things that made Joplin what it is and telling those stories is going to be a very important part of the commission to do so. And I hope we can do it in a way that people will want to attend, that’s going to be the thing is doing it with COVID and different habits of how we attend things, it’s going to be a different conversation than we’ve had in the past.”
Having items like the Joplin commemorative purple iris cookie cutter is a way of holding onto the history of the city, according to Tuttle.
“You just got to hang on to your history,” he said. “You’ve just got to keep with your history and I think any community that doesn’t embrace where they’ve come from can’t focus on where they’re going. I mean, everything we do that probably has been recent history is all focused on the tornado, and you know there is 140 other years out there of Joplin’s history that are unique and colorful and we just have to have from time to time embrace those milestones and make these things work. You only get a 125th birthday once.”