The 2023 Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival is scheduled to begin Wednesday, May 31 in downtown Sedalia with the theme, “Palm Leaf Rag.”

Joplin's Palm Leaf Rag was published Nov. 14, 1903 by the Victor Kremer Company of Chicago.

The artwork for the sheet music graces the cover of this year's festival, which will run through June 3.

According to Doug Freed, president of the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Foundation, this year's event will feature the Peacherine Ragtime Society Orchestra, with nearly a dozen members, who will perform the soundtrack to a silent film.

The festival will focus special attention on 96-year-old Max Morath, who has enjoyed a long career as a performer and creator of ragtime music. Morath, at the age of 62, was the first recipient of the Scott Joplin Award at the 1989 Festival in Convention Hall.

Morath will be honored at the Thursday night concert at Liberty Center on June 1.

In 2022, a new venue was made available to the music festival in downtown Sedalia. The Pavilion, a public/private performance area, was added as a venue for outdoor events during the festival, typically held the first week of June.

Sedalia is considered the Home of Ragtime, where the Maple Leaf Rag was written by Joplin and published by the John Stark Music Company.

The music festival's Artistic Director, Bryan Wright, said that ragtime is more than happy music. “It is an opportunity to connect directly with our shared musical heritage and with each other.

“Scott Joplin, who called Sedalia home in the late 1890s and early 1900s, was not the first American composer, but he was among the earliest to cultivate and unashamedly promote a distinctly American style,” Wright said.

“The roots of ragtime existed before Joplin, but he recognized the artistic value of what many in his day considered “low-brow” music – and he had the hard-earned skills and creative drive to do something about it,” he noted. “In a remarkable composing career that spanned two decades, He wrote and published dozens of piano rags, waltzes, marches, and even a pair of operas.”

The music festival will celebrate 50 years in 2024.

The first official event of the 2023 festival will take place Wednesday, May 31 at the Downtown Pavilion starting at 5 p.m., with a social and dance. The event will be hosted by Wright.

Opening ceremony will take place Thursday June 1 at 9 a.m., at the Pavilion, with remarks from Sedalia Mayor Pro Tem Rhiannon Foster, Doug Freed, Bryan Wright and William (Bill) McNally.

Ragtime Kids will feature three young and very talented performers such as Leo Roth, Tadao Tomokiyo and Max Libertor. Libertor is the 2023 Ragtime Kid.

A total of 26 adult performers will appear at this year's festival, including well-known names like Martin Spitznagel, Will Perkins, Adam Swanson, Dave Majchrzak, Brian Holland, William McNally, Frederick Hodges, Bill Edwards, Richard Dowling, Danny Coots and Jeff Barnhart, to list a few of them.

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On Wednesday, May 31 there will be a “Welcome Social and Dance: at the Pavilion starting at 5 p.m.

Opening ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. Thursday, June 1 at the Pavilion. Following the ceremony, there will be free performances starting at 9:30 and continuing through 5 p.m.

A Donor Party will begin at 5:30 p.m.

A Symposia will be held at the Liberty Center from 9 until noon. Cost is $15, and will feature Christina Austin, Brandon Byrne and William McNally.

Paid concerts will be held at 2 p.m. “A Garden of Ragtime” and 7:30 p.m. “Celebrating Max Morath.”

At 10 p.m., there will be a Ragtime Afterglow at the Pavilion.

On Friday, June 2, free performances will begin at 9 a.m., and continue through 5 p.m.

At 5 p.m., there will be a dinner show at Lamy's, 108 West Pacific, featuring Jerron Paxton. Tickets are required.

At the Liberty Center on Friday, there will be a Symposia from 9 to noon featuring Takashi Hamada, Bill Edwards and Frederick Hodges. Tickets are $15.

Paid concerts on Friday include “From Rags to Riches: A Game Show Concret” at 2 p.m. at the Liberty Center, and “The Moving Picture Show: At The Height of Hilarity” at 7:30 p.m.

At 10 p.m., there will be a Ragtime Afterglow at the Pavilion.

On Saturday, free entertainment will begin at 9 a.m., and continue through 5 p.m., at the Stark Tent, the Pavilion and the Katy Depot.

A Symposia will be held at the Liberty Center from 9 to noon featuring David Reffkin and Andrew Greene. Tickets are $15.

At the Liberty Center, “Ragging The Classics (and vice Versa)” will begin at 2 p.m., and the “Ragtime Music Hall” concert will begin at 7:30.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, local and area musicians will be featured at the Pavilion from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

On Thursday night, the Clay Clear Band will perform.

On Friday night, DJ Harry will perform.

On Saturday night, Melvin Kerr and the St. Monica Family and Friends Gospel Choir will perform.

At 10 p.m., there will be a Ragtime Afterglow at the Pavilion.

Tickets for all paid events will be available for purchase at the Hayden Liberty Center Box Office, 111 W. 5th, from 9 to 4 on Wednesday, 8 to 8 on Thursday, 8 to 8 on Friday, and 9 to 7:30 Saturday.

For more information, go to The entire program is available online as a PDF file at the site.

Occurring simultaneously with the music festival, the "Paint Sedalia Plein Air Event" will take place May 31 through June 3.

The event is sponsored by the Sedalia Visual Art Association and gives festival-goers the chance to watch working artists as they create their outdoor artwork in historic downtown Sedalia.

A closing reception is scheduled for Saturday, June 3 at 2 p.m. at The Art Room, 304 West Main, where the finished art will be on display for viewing and purchase. Awards will be presented at that time as well. A total of $450 is prizes will be awarded.

Scott Joplin Festival

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