Missouri River Rats to celebrate 10 years of art

The Missouri River Rats for the Arts members are busy preparing for their 10 year birthday celebration, which will be held September 7 at and around Turner Hall. They  met Thursday evening to brainstorm the details of their celebration.
Everyone gathered in a living room in the back of Turner Hall, River Rat member Leslie Oswald facilitated the meeting. During the meeting members took on leadership of certain aspects of the event, including food vendors and entertainment.
The celebration will be held to remember the past 10 years and the founding of the organization.
For a while after the Boonville Community Theater (BCT) ceased performing plays, Boonville had no theater art organization. In June of 2003, to see if there would be any support for an art organization, Oswald along with her husband David, reignited the idea and proposed an organization that would do more than just theatrical plays, but encompass a wide range of art ideas.
"We knew Turner Hall had been used for theater and art programs in the past. We thought it would be wonderful to do that once again in addition to having wedding receptions and such in the hall," Oswald said.
The Oswalds called on regional artists to join the group, which had no name at the time. Oswald said the meeting was a success and in August of 2003 the name, Missouri River Rats for the Arts, became the group's official name. Soon thereafter the group became a 501C3 organization.  
According to a Boonville Daily News article by Melissa Bushdiecker, the group was considered Boonville's first Cultural Arts Committee.
Since 2003 the River Rats have been very involved with bringing different forms of art to the area.
Gumbo Bottoms, which will be performed next year on a river boat on the Mississippi River, is one of the largest projects the River Rats have been involved in since the play was written by fellow River Rat, Meredith Ludwig. The play was brought to the stage initially by the River Rats.
Oswald said other activities the River Rats have facilitated include the annual Love Notes, held every year during Valentines Day. Each year Love Notes is centered around a theme. In this past year's Love Notes, the story took place at the River Front Inn, a hotel full of loving individuals.
The Third Annual An Evening of Very Short Plays was performed earlier this year. This event boasted plays written by area citizens, which were performed by River Rats members.
Among other projects, the River Rats produced an album of music by the late Bob Dyer. Dyer was a Boonville resident, historian and musician known by many around Missouri.
With all the River Rats have achieved throughout the 10 years, Oswald said the organization wants to thank the community for their support.
The celebration will begin around 4 p.m. with children activities. A dance group known as the Bel Aires will be performing outside near Vine Street. Inside Turner Hall, many art and theater activities will be enjoyed. Entertainment of all types will last through the evening. A free street dance featuring Columbia’s own Rockin’ and Rhythm band will be offered as well.