I hope most of you had a chance to attend the Fall Festival last Saturday. It was full of the usual faire of crafts, food, and music and it also brought out some of the best chili cooks Neosho has to offer. For those that stopped by the downtown fire station, you know what I am talking about. My family certainly had a great time!
I'll start by thanking the fire department for their youth activities. My daughter Kydnall and her BFF Brecia Daniel had their first experience opening a fire hose and spraying water. While Kyndall made me take the first shot, she quickly saw the enjoyment and sprayed her fair share of water. Brecia followed suit and both did a fine job! My wife refused to participate fearing the worst! When we left the firehouse hours later, kids were still knocking out fires with water flying in all directions!
After getting wet, we made a quick stop inside the firehouse to smell the aroma of chili. Each shift had their own chili recipe on the stove in anticipation of showcasing their work in a fundraiser for the department. Each team gave me an advance look (and smell) of their work. I knew we'd be back to grab a bite before we headed home.
Our next stop was on the west side of the square for some hot apple cider. The cool weather made the hot brew a perfect drink for the morning. As we stood in line, we could hear the sound of horseshoes clanking along the square. We also saw the familiar sights of fall decorations – the same sights I remember as a kid when Big Spring Park would be full of craft vendors selling similar things. We could also hear the sounds of dogs barking to the north. That could only mean one thing – the folks at Faithful Friends were doing their magic with animals. They are a great group!
As we sipped our cider and walked to the south, I saw my friend Craig Jones on stage playing keyboards for Riverbend. I spent almost a half hour listening and enjoying the band's sound and rhythm. And while Craig and I didn't get a chance to talk, we exchanged smiles and head nods acknowledging each other's presence. Craig is quite a musician, and the band's leader Jeremiah Jones certainly knows how to work a guitar. As a drummer all my life, I'm jealous of these who can play stringed instruments. Learning to play the banjo is still on my bucket list.
We went from there to say hello to our city manager, Troy Royer. He was helping make funnel cakes with the Exchange Club. We talked briefly about the excellent turnout and the weather. My daughter, figuring politics would come up, took Brecia for walk up to the Civic. Troy and I were soon joined by councilman Collinsworth. We all talked on a variety of topics, including Wildcat football. When Kyndall returned, I said "bye" to Troy and Charlie and we moved on around the square.
Page 2 of 2 - Ultimately, we made our way back to the NFD just in time to start sampling each shift's chili. Shift "A" had a very smoky (ironic) flavor. Shift "B"'s recipe reminded me of the chili from my days at Neosho High School. Shift "C" had more of a tomato-based flavor (and some very good cinnamon rolls to go along with it!). The "C" shift ultimately walked away with the prize, but each shift did a great job and they were all winners in my book (and my belly.)
Our morning finished up as we listened to some words and history from our fire chief, Mike Eads, and watched a presentation from State Rep. Bill Reiboldt – recognizing the 125th year of the NFD. I learned some things as I listened to Mike's historical commentary, including that the original firehouse was nothing more than a barn located just east of the current fire station. I also learned the names of all of the men who lost their lives while serving to keep Neosho safe. Like our city, our own NFD is full of some very unique history. And for those of you that don't know Mike, you can't find a better person. He has a passion for Neosho and the NFD unlike anyone else I know.
Thanks to everyone that made the 2013 Fall Festival a success. That means Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas aren't that far away! Good luck to the Neosho Wildcats tonight as they take on the Webb City Cardinals. It looks like another great night for high school football!
Until next time: stay the course, keep the faith, and may God bless Neosho!
Richard Davidson is mayor of Neosho.