Bob Mitchell: What we once accomplished

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

With autumn here, the question of what is in front of us in relation to weather and activities are on the minds of a lot of people, including this writer.

Mitchell

This question set in motion thoughts concerning what once went on in Cassville and what has passed out of the scene in today's world. Most of you would be surprised how many events and happenings once took place in this small town of ours.

Many of the activities had something to do with agriculture, which was the life bread of this community at one time. Principally, those dairy cows in local fields put food on the table for many families in Barry County. Believe it or not, swine played an important part in the local economy, as pigs were called "depression busters" in those days.

Feeder pigs raised to that level in this area had prime markets in heavy corn-producing states. The Cassville Livestock Auction, operated by the Keen family, bought and shipped trailer loads of the growing pigs to points of distribution in several northwestern states.

Not only the animals, but the transporters associated with this industry was a point of the local economy for several years. The Antle and Lauderdale families, plus others, were prime movers in this activity.

Both of these possibilities of pumping dollars into the Cassville and Barry County economy picture have been gone for several years.

Back to the past

A couple of those programs was popular Harvest Show, which each fall once saw both the north and west sides of Cassville's public square converted into covered livestock stalls. It was designed for those proud of their breeds of beef, dairy animals and swine to vie for recognition from judges. What wasn't all that popular with some people was the judging circles that were located in front of the Post Office, interfering somewhat with postal activities.

It seemed like a miracle the way the facilities came into place, nearly overnight, constructed of newly-sawn oak lumber. Men and boys who were capable built the facilities and covered them with tin in just a couple of days. The capability included being able to hammer nails into the material, that had come straight from one or more of the area sawmills.

It was equally astonishing that the material would disappear so quickly once the event was over. The late Rube Fuquay, who dealt in local dairy cattle for several years, once talked about how quick the market opened for the used oak lumber, sometimes selling for more than a new price.

Dairy days were big

Fostered by Pet Milk fieldmen when that receiving plant was located in Cassville, Dairy Days brought some attention to this area. Kraft at Wheaton was also involved in the promotion and brought together "dairy queen" candidates from all over the county. Some of the young ladies used the contest as a stepping stone for further contest recognition.

Businesspeople got together to promote the use of dairy products throughout the length of the recognition. Dairy queen contestants went through talent presentations in the only auditorium in town, the old high school. Most of the programs over the years came on the hottest evening of the early fall, as folks sweltered through the event.

Fescue Capital USA

Introduction of the Fescue Capital USA Festival in Cassville proved to be a welcome program for eaters as well as spectators. The highlight of the activity was serving a pit beef dinner to the hundreds who swarmed to Memorial Park. Crews headed by Dr. Gene Miekley and Cherry Warren, buried beef roasts in the ground near the pavilion and cooked the succulent meat overnight.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat.

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