The Scott Joplin Festival has officially started. Most of the activities are in Downtown Sedalia, however today's (June 4) are at State Fair Community College. However, several of the ragtime artists paid a visit to this morning with The Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri Summer Program.

More than 100 members listened as “Perfessor” Bill Edwards, Dalton Ridenhour, Max Keenlyside and Richard Egan played ragtime hits at the Club’s elementary site – Heber Hunt Elementary. Songs included ragtime favorites, from “The Entertainer” which was written by Scott Joplin in Sedalia, to the “Black and White Rag.”

Skyline Site Manager Donal Buckner, who sits on the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival Board, said ragtime performers have been visiting the Club for the past few years.

“The kids really love seeing the performances,” he said. “In February (the Scott Joplin Foundation) always hosts an Artist in Residence, so a lot of the kids have seen ragtime performed before.”

Buckner noted Sedalia’s history in the ragtime movement – Scott Joplin wrote several of his most famous hits while living here – and said it was important to keep passing on that legacy to future Sedalia generations.

“Not only did ragtime start here, Sedalia and the Scott Joplin Festival are still very well known,” he said. “We have performers from all over the world play the festival every year because it’s still a ‘resume ticket.’ If you’re serious about playing ragtime, you have to play in Sedalia.”

Aside from giving the members an hour of fun entertainment, the ragtime performance dovetails with the Club’s fine arts programs. Each summer the Club hosts a music program dedicated to teaching members everything from Mozart to the Beatles.

“Mr. Austin is teaching the members about different musical styles, everything from classical to pop to jazz. Ragtime is a big part of that and this is a great way for us to let our members experience some great music being played by great performers.”

The Scott Joplin Festival rolls on through Saturday (June 7) and tickets are still available for the paid shows, but don't forget the daily free shows at the various venues around Sedalia.