A Labor of Love
Castles are the dreams of fairy-tales... Knights saving princesses from lofty towers... But this castle is the dream of master builder Robert Palmer, and me, his wife, Bonnie and our daughter Brittany... and if any saving has been done, it has been Bonnie and Brittany rescuing Robert from a few near deathly falls!
It is believed to be the largest castle built by the smallest crew in the world! And we have loved every... okay, almost every minute of it!
There is something so very satisfying about creating something from the ground up... seeing it rise from trenches where sweat pours off your face as you cut, bend and tie re-bar to rising up 50 feet in the air topped by angels, lion head corbels and soaring turreted spires!
On retiring... I moved to southern Missouri with our daughter, while Robert finished up the remainder of his work in LA. He sent me a drawing of a house that looked like a castle... and scrawled across the bottom, "I want to build you a castle!"
My heart melted as I gazed at this adorable home... I quickly picked up the phone and called. "No way... People will think we're crazy." I stated... but then over the next week I kept looking at it, and called him back, "Only if we can use it for our community, share it with others."
And so the adventure began. Now 13 years later we still enjoy sharing the castle for community non profit events.
My dream is to create a Medieval Hamlet where craftsmen and women, can come, share their talents and have our guests transported back in time... complete with Medieval games, foods, crafts and sporting events!
In my life, the dream never ends... I hope in your life it never ends as well! Feel free to call and help build a dream together!
From the 1880's...
...Fordland was a dynamic, bustling town... Tomatoes were grown, brought to town, then shipped aboard Frisco Rail Road trains to distant markets.
In fact J S Ford, a Rail Road official founded the town. And a post office has been opened here since 1882!
Fordland has a rich history... the Hanson Orchard, a feed and flour mill, a local paper the Fordland Monitor (displayed at the Worlds Fair in 1903), the KOLR 10 tower (one of the tallest in the USA, and recently fallen), Devils Den (a sink hole), the elephant man of Fordland, Kindalls 100 year old store and now a castle, Chateau Charmant!
It was in 2009 that the Fordland Community Betterment Assoc. was established as a not-for-profit the goal of promoting Fordland and the surrounding area. The FCBA hosts events to help promote the area each year, its first was a car show "Cruzin' Thru Time". A little bit later I delved in to help with our next annual event...
..."Wild West Days", a Heritage Event, 3rd Sat of Oct (so this year Oct 20th)... it commences with a Parade thru History, including Native Americans, wagon trains, hand carts, penny farthing, and Model T's and A's! Quite the parade for a small town. It's a great family event which incorporates in the days activities FREE Games for children, I noticed children racing from Panning for Gold, to Santa Fe Sling Shot, where they received penny candies for their efforts or off to Jump Rope, Tug of War, or Egg in Spoon Race and much more. Local Churches help with the games adding to the friendliness of this festival.
But it doesn't just entertain the children, there are terrific Old Time Vendors, with Demonstrations of spinning or carving wood, and great buys. I always seem to pick up one trinket or another, and one I'm longing to buy are handmade dolls with yarn hair and the cutest expressions you've ever seen... I guess I'll never grow up! Then there's the aroma as you walk the old tent town circle of Delicious Western Foods. In fact, my favorite is Mama Mary's Navajo Tacos, mouthwatering, in fact even now, I am drooling just thinking of it!
Then the day culminates with the State Wide Youth Competitions, such as Best Country Voice (winner sings in Branson Shows). Mallory Griffin said of her experience: "I loved the opportunities that the Wild West Days gave me in Branson. They were unforgettable experiences and I was treated so well." Mallory has had a lot of other great opportunities come her way after the event. She won the Missouri State Fair Idol in 2016 so this year she was able to open for the 2017 State Fair Idol and then sing on the Grand Stage opening for Sawyer Brown.
Then they have the Best Country Artist (wins a $500. art scholarship). Julia Mason said of her experience "It was really good for me, it got me exposure and I was happy to see others works and the scholarship was generous and helpful.” Julia is using her scholarship at Drury... I have been amazed at the quality of the youth in our state.
The association also has sponsored youth sports leagues at the park, has been active in obtaining a very generous grant from Webster Electric Foundation for a new pavilion to aid in all of the events held in Fordland. They have helped to sponsor Fordland Care To Learn, and I've heard very pleased residents mention how friendly Fordland is, when they receive a gift basket when moving in to our area. FCBA was also instrumental in conceiving and organizing Ozarks South Central Tourism!
I'm so very grateful to live in a Small Town, with a Big Heart! The FCBA hosts monthly networking meetings. Contact Susan Brewer for more information on how to become involved and enjoy the friendships we form as we serve one another! 417 616 1482...
Our Native Indian Heritage
Who would expect to find perched on a hill in Mansfield, hidden behind a video store ancient artifacts? I'd heard about this curiosity from Kathy Short but it was another thing to discover it for myself... Cautiously, I stepped into the video store owned by Murl and Marjorie Pierson, I wound my way back thru CD's to where a light glowed in a doorway. There I peered into another world... instantly transported to different, more primitive time.
This labor of love has been painstakingly built by this unique couple... They took their own retirement to build and store these objects... relics of the past, for us... you and I to enjoy!
I was literally blown away by a 27' long dugout canoe in absolutely amazing condition. They recount the story, told by her grandfather, a relation to the man who found it, while building his A frame home on the creek, between Vera Cruz and Bryant Creek, just south east of Ava. He caught a glimpse of something unusual, sticking out from the river bank, forming a long narrow pointing tip... of what turned out to be an ancient dug out canoe.
After many days of sweat driven labor, he dug this 27' foot relic from the rock, clay soil... this all happened around 1973. The tale goes the wife was unhappy with the new large home he built for her "I told you I didn't want that house," so, she stayed comfortably in their cozy A frame... The large house sat empty until the family passed away and new people moved in... the dug out was then moved to Show Me Realty where it was stored until Marjorie and Murl rescued it and gave it it's new home at the museum.
Offers have been made from Bass Pro and the Smithsonian... but they have resisted the temptation and proudly display it in their unique museum.
I spoke to Dr. Neal Lopinot of MSU Archaelogical Department who had taken a sliver to find what kind of wood it is.
He said it is Bald Cypress from perhaps the lower Mississippi Valley... it might have traveled up the White River to get to where it laid at rest for several hundred years. Carbon dating is expensive and although it would be fun to have it done, the $300. to do so makes it less feasible for Murl and Marjorie's small museum. He also stated that ax cut-marks are visible and he believes that would put it close to the 1700's!
In my minds eye, I picture a heroic native paddling his way north perhaps hunting food, or tracking a traitor.. leaving his canoe in search and never returning... what stories this old canoe could tell.
The Ozarks were inhabited by hundreds of bands or tribes of American Indians. From the Kaskaskia, Cahokia, Peoria, Saukees of the eastern Ozarks to the Shawnee, Pawnee, Osage, Choctaw of the west, the Ozark’s Plateau was filled with other tribes too numerous to mention, or so I learned from Murl and Marjorie...
They took ownership of the Western Cherokee Organization in 2015. Their sole desire is to bring people of culture together. As of 2014 there were 55,000 members. So this valiant couple rolled their retirement over and took the lions share and built the museum!
Their love of their heritage and the Indian people inspired this risk. They immediately set up collecting artifacts since 2004- 2005 and have set up a substantial library. Then the most miraculous thing happened... other people started sharing their treasures. A drum here, a head dress there... and little by little the collection has grown to a great representation of a proud people from the past.
I walked away in awe of the beauty of the exhibit, but also with an admiration for this dedicated couple.
This committed couples dream is to see the museum self supporting. They have set up a non profit board and they hope to inspire others devoted to the preservation of our history... this takes support, this takes commitment, this takes a caring heart! For any who have a desire to preserve our history contact them at: email@example.com
Day Trip to Mansfield Historical Society
A quick trip to the sites of Mansfield are not complete without a stop at the Mansfield Historical Society Museum and Gift Shop.
My first stop there was to meet Kathy Short, previously, she had come and talked to Fordland Community Betterment Association about how to form an art history league. Not only did I meet and talk with Kathy, I was greeted by friendly volunteers, who not only love history, it is literally part of their DNA. Most of these volunteers are descendants of the people they are showing you, which gives them unique insight and you untold stories. They are dedicated to bringing to life our past for future generations to cherish.
Walk through the Unusual and Unique... There's a casket from the Odd Fellows, heavy irons from the past, an antique printing press, dozens of photos from the history of Laura Ingalls Wilder, her original books and items only found there and no where else! Civil War regalia, early settlers and their descendants original clothing, a Carl Mays, the Major League Baseball player exhibit, and a fanciful gift shop with treasures of the past.
This museum only asks a small donation for the wealth of history they offer as they walk with you and explain each exhibit!
If you are lucky enough to visit Sept. 15th, don't miss their pie sale held during Laura Ingall Wilder Event... you must go early or you'll miss a real homemade treat, seldom found anywhere in America today. Volunteers... wholesome grannies create these delicious old time pies with recipes from days gone with the wind... I'll be there this year, hope to see you there as well!
...and Oh la la.... A taste of France, right here in our back yard! La Galette Berrichonne, don't be intimidated by the name... it's truly a gem of the Ozarks.
I met Roland and his wife Elaine when they drove up to the castle we were building, Chateau Charmant... they'd heard that there was a true French castle here in Fordland, but didn't believe it, until they wound up the hill and we came face to face. I have a love of all things French... having spent a year in Paris in my early 20's, especially their food and oh yes, their pastries top my list... My mouth waters just thinking of French delicacies!
So meeting Chef Roland and his wife Elaine, was a dream come true, and a life long friendship... Roland greets regulars always with a big grin, “I love our customers. Talking to them is my favorite.” He makes everyone feel like a long lost friend.
It wasn't long until he opened his Bakery Cafe in Fordland, La Galette Berrichonne where he invents delicious, mouthwatering creations... one of the first things I tried were his Crepes, and they were better than I remembered back in Paris, my second home...
Then there's his Pate Berrichonne with it's pork, savory herbs wrapped in light pastry puff, delicate flavors blended perfectly, just like in his home in the Berry region of France. Each time I go, I try to pick something new... and each time results in a new favorite and his Seafood Salad Vendeenne with fresh scallops & Salmon sautéed with garlic and fresh herbs became my next on the best of Roland!
The thing is there is nothing he does not do well... his Beef en Croute Roasted Beef Tenderloin wrapped in flaky pastry dough, his Beef Bourguignon (boeuf bourguignon) a braised beef stew in burgundy wine, and then there's my husbands favorite his Pork Tenderloin drenched in a creamy lobster sauce...
If you've never traveled to Paris, now is your chance to savor the foods typical of Chef Roland Parny's own special area... the Berry region just south of Paris! The ambiance is a delightful chic country French including local artists showcasing their works along the walls... According to Elaine, “In every French village you will find one or two cafés that are the heart of the village,” she says. “They are meeting places… Life happens in a little village café. Some people arrive here expecting a fancy five-star dining experience, but we’re more like mother’s Sunday cooking,”
He recently released his first French cookbook, "A Taste of Berry" Thumb through it and pick any recipe... then follow the step by step easy instructions... by dinner time you'll be dining on a gourmet meal. I tried the Vol au Vent aux Fruits de Mer ... I was thrilled when it turned out as tender and delicious as the Chef Roland's!
You can take a class with the Chef and learn his special techniques... or just sit and dine, his bakery is open every Friday from 8 AM to 3 PM. His bakery/cafe is open Saturday's 8 AM to 3 PM... Or enjoy a real treat and try the 7 course dinner Sat. nights, but make sure you reserve a place, they fill up fast! He also does In-house catering, or you can hire him for special events, which I have done often... and I've always been pleased with the taste, the presentation, quantities and especially the price!
I love food, and French food has to be on the top of my list. If you want a true French experience take the trip off the beaten path to Fordland and La Galette Berrichonne... don't forget to call to make sure they're open and pick up an extra pastry or two for your ride home...
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Join us as a Member in the tri county area of Wright, Douglas and Webster or
just visit the site and discover those unique places within an easy drive...
Refresh yourselves with a day trip... and get relief from City Life!