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 (www.brewerandshipley.com), 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 (www.jasonriley.com) 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??? Weather.com 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