Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tarkio Road Dessert

Allow us to introduce our friend (and first guest blogger!), Lori Seymour. A native of Tarkio, Lori spent a few years in Omaha, NE, and Columbia, MO, before returning to Atchison County in 2006. She is an example of what we love to see around here - she left to pursue education and live life for a while outside of our county, and chose to return to her home. Her determination to make Atchison County an even better place to live is evidenced by her leadership roles with our hospital, economic development office, community services organization, and the Tarkio Chamber.

Tarkio Road Dessert

by Lori Seymour

One of the best rural community traditions assumes the form of a simple street fair. It is a straightforward recipe, really – something that turns out perfectly every time! First, close off a couple of blocks on Main Street. Second, get the local cheerleaders, sports teams, and charitable organizations to sell hot dogs, homemade ice cream, pulled pork, funnel cakes and cotton candy. Third, arrange for a stage with entertainment on it. Turn on the sunshine and let it bake into a dessert that will satisfy everyone!

We started making dessert here in Tarkio several months ago, when the Chamber of Commerce was contacted by a Tarkio College Alumnus with an intriguing concept. It was suggested we invite 70's Folk Rock Phenoms, Brewer and Shipley (, to Tarkio to perform a concert, during Tarkio College Alumni Weekend. We would be celebrating the 40th Anniversary release of their song entitled "Tarkio Road".

Brewer and Shipley are perhaps best known for their 1971 Top 10 hit, "One Toke Over the Line", however, this folk duo also released a song that year helping put Tarkio on the map. The song "Tarkio Road" has long been a town anthem, played on local juke boxes and by local musicians for the past 40 years. The fabled story of the song's creation had the folk duo being arrested and locked up in the county hoosegow for an evening by my own grandfather - Paul Seymour - the Atchison County Sherriff during that era! Grandpa Paul isn't around to verify the story anymore and Brewer and Shipley deny ever spending a night in jail, but it makes for a fun story nonetheless!

Chamber president, Mary Ann Hull, and area business members accepted the challenge to provide an afternoon of fun and FREE entertainment for our surrounding community and returning Tarkio College visitors. Brewer and Shipley were contacted and excited about our proposal! A stage and sound equipment were procured. Port-a-potties ordered. If only we could find an opening act, the day would be perfect!

Thankfully, we didn't have to look far for an opening act. Tarkio's very own Jason Riley ( with his versatile guitar talent made him the perfect complement to warm up the audience for our main act. Jason, a Tarkio High School graduate, has 4 solo CD's to his name and has won competitions in both the rock and country genres and has opened for and performed with national and international artists. When not on tour, he serves as adjunct professor of guitar at Benedictine College in Atchison, KS and Missouri Western State College in St. Joseph, MO. Jason was contacted and excited about our proposal!

We had ourselves a concert recipe for Main Street - We named it Tarkio Road!

The day of the concert, Saturday, June 25th greeted us with an early summer morning thunderstorm. Cell phones started buzzing early, were our plans about to be rained out? Was dessert about to be ruined??? assured us the storm would move out and, by 10 a.m., the parking lot at the Farmer's State Bank, and Tarkio Road, were humming with excitement. The stage was erected, the vendors directed, and by 2 p.m. we had a city-block full of visitors ready to enjoy afternoon entertainment that was anything but small town.

A beautiful afternoon ensued, acquaintances and friendships renewed, funnel cakes consumed, all choreographed to the music of Jason Riley and Brewer and Shipley. Thanks were bestowed, keys to the city proffered, and Congressman Graves mingled.

We small-town folk know how to throw a party. We work hard so we can play hard and it makes my heart smile while I'm enjoying dessert, movin' on down Tarkio Road.

Pictures accompanying this story were generously provided by Photographer Megan McAdams of Tarkio, MO

Monday, June 27, 2011

Top 10 Reasons I Love Atchison County

I am fortunate to be the executive director of Atchison County’s development office. Development – economic, community, or otherwise – is not an immediate-gratification sort of gig no matter where you live. For those of us planted in Rural America, this challenge is magnified by easy-to-solve things like youth outmigration, an aging population, and a stagnant and/or declining economy. [Oh good, you’re saying. This is going to be one of those ‘upper’ kind of blogs. Hang in there – I promise this really IS a place where we celebrate things!]

The fact of the matter is, I am all about immediate gratification. My Dad once said that he likes things like lawn-mowing and combining because you can look behind you and see what you’ve accomplished. Apparently, we are related. And yet, here I am, in a position where there are very few opportunities to see the fruits of my labor.

Want to know why I get up and go to work every day? Because this place raised me, allowed me to spread my wings and fly for a while, and welcomed me back with open arms. Because, in spite of the fact that small places have very specific challenges, I encounter people every day who have the same mindset I do: “It is what it is, now what are we going to do about it?” Because – put simply – I love Atchison County. Without further ado, here are the top ten reasons why (as originally printed in Atchison County Development Corporation’s Spring 2011 Newsletter):

Top 10 Reasons I Love Atchison County

10. The ebb and flow of agriculture: 4-legged babies in the spring, perfectly-green bean fields in the summer, combines in the fall.

9. Traffic jams happen seasonally, and even then, you're behind an awesome monster 8-wheel tractor, and you probably know the driver.

8. Brewer & Shipley STILL sing songs about us.

7. We love our kids: Battle of the Books, DARE, scholarships, graduation parties.

6. Apaches and F-18s and A-10s, oh my!

5. Lots of folks to talk Mizzou football with.

4. We love our country: National Day of Prayer, Memorial Day services, Walk of Honor.

3. People around here have PhD's in volunteerism.

2. We know how to grow stuff—corn, beans, kids, cows, you name it.

And the #1 reason I love Atchison County is…

"These are my people, this is where I come from." This is Home.