A Walk Down Memory Lane

Fourteen years ago, I made one of the most rewarding, and scariest, decisions of my life. Thanks to my family and a few good friends listening to my ideas and believing in me, I decided to follow my dreams and start Show Me The Ozarks Magazine. My vision was to create a magazine that would recognize the amazing people, towns and cities of our region and tell the stories that often go untold. As we enter our 15th year, I thought I would take you on a walk down memory lane.   

2001 – The 75th anniversary of the Route 66 Motor Tour passed through Joplin September 9. On September 11, a coworker came into my office and said a plane hit the World Trade Center. There was so much sadness that day in my office, our communities and the world. Our first website was designed and launched by Rodney Blaukat, a longtime friend and contributing writer. We sponsored our first event, Ozarks Public Television’s WineFeast on October 21. This remains one of my favorite events to attend and sponsor every year! 

2002 – Best-read features (or most talked about): Vivian Leon, music director of Missouri Southern International Piano Competition; I remember featuring and attending the Festival of the Four States May 31-June 1 in downtown Joplin; and Scott and Nancy Hudson as Harley Davidson celebrated its 100th anniversary. 

2003 – Best-read features (or most talked about): Brad Belk, executive director of the Joplin Museum Complex and the introduction of Percy the cat. We had so many comments about Percy and how readers visited the Joplin Museum Complex to see him. We kicked off the 1st Annual 4-State Baby Contest with 100 percent of the proceeds benefitting the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. On June 28 and 29, SMTO sponsored Airfest Joplin. 

2004 – Best-read features (or most talked about) were Scott Elbert from Seneca signing with the Dodgers, SMTO introduced the Wedding Guide in the January edition and our first wedding show was held in February. We were proud sponsors of Choppers 4 Children, a bike show and rally benefitting area children.

2005 – Best-read features (or most talked about): The Sky’s the Limit article introducing Jimmy and Kyle Franklin. Jimmy Franklin passed away performing at an air show July 10, 2005. Kyle Franklin is a friend and you can see him practicing frequently at the Neosho Airport. We also premiered our “Women in Business” features. 

2006 – We celebrated our fifth anniversary with a party at The Bridge. We had music, food, hot air balloon rides and giveaways. We had hundreds of visitors who came that day to celebrate with us. Best-read feature (or most talked about) was Lowell Davis and other local artists.   

2007 – Best-read features (or most talked about): The opening of The Swimmin’ Hole Water Park; the kick-off of the 1st Annual Cutest Pet Contest with all proceeds benefitting the Joplin Humane Society; and the debut of our “Meet The Doctors” section. Our October edition was extra special as we honored survivors for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

2008 – Best-read features (or most talked about): American Heart Association Gala at the Seas and had a heart survivor on the cover. Other features included the celebration of Joplin’s 135th birthday, 1st Annual Holiday Experience and the 1st Annual PRCA Rodeo in Carthage, MO.

2009 – Best-read features (or most talked about): 10th Annual Crystal Heart Ball and 5th Annual Choppers 4 Children event. We also told the story of the Charles Burt family with the tagline “The Family That Works Together Stays Together.”

2010 – Best-read features (or most talked about): The unveiling of the Anthony Benton Gude mural as the Newman Building celebrated its 100th year in Joplin. It was our first time to feature Carl Junction, and we kicked off our 1st Annual “Covers for a Cause” with 100 percent of the proceeds benefitting Hope 4 You Breast Cancer Foundation. Also, SMTO was launched on Facebook! 

2011 – May 22 was one of the most tragic days in Joplin’s history. Immediately after the tornado, our staff pulled together to publish a special tribute edition for all the lives touched by the destruction. We raised $25,000 for the Joplin Tornado Relief funds. In addition, SMTO celebrated our 10th anniversary with a Wine, Dine & Donate event that allowed us to present a check to United Way’s Joplin Tornado Relief Fund for $10,000. We were presented with a Missouri Resolution for our community service by the Missouri House of Representatives. We kicked off our 1st Annual Nature Photography Contest with proceeds benefitting Wildcat Glades & Audubon Center.

2012 – Best-read feature (or most talked about) was the beautiful love story of Pedro and Alice Pantoja. SMTO hosted our 2nd Wine, Dine & Donate event, and we raised $12,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States. 

2013 – Best-read feature (or most talked about) was our Honoring Our Military feature with Bill Stansberry from Carl Junction on the cover, and 10 veterans and active military families featured in the section. We also featured 10 Super Educators with Gene Koester dressed as superman with a student taped to the locker for our back-to-school edition. 

2014 – Best-read feature (or most talked about) was Newton’s Jewelers Celebrating 100 years of serving Joplin, and Bunny Newton turning 90 years old! What a great year! 

2015 – Best-read features (or most talked about) were the Joplin Memorial Half and the Carl Junction feature with Gary Stubblefield on the cover sporting a red nose and sneakers. That has gotten a lot of smiles!   

Thank you for taking this walk down memory lane with me. It reminded me of all the amazing people and memories I have made on this journey. It was impossible to mention every person, event and activity that made our community what it is today. I am so glad I took a chance and started this journey. I am having the time of my life!

Thank you for making it possible!






Show Me the Ozarks Magazine
P.O. Box 3325
Joplin, Missouri 64803



Lee Radcliff

Editor/ Publisher