The Wagon Train resting on the Square as seen from the Wide Veranda.
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The West Plains Wagon Club pulled into the Champion Square about 11:00 on Tuesday morning, a little earlier than they have routinely done in the past.  They made an early start out of John Webber’s place that morning, expecting a hot day.  They got it.  Jim Cantrell says that they do not mind the rain.  They never get wet unless it is time to harness or unharness.  So far, they said the trip had gone well with no significant incidents.  What a gift it would be to sit in around those camp fires as the Wagon Train moves along, to hear those stories.  Randal Barnette figures he will have traveled 3,300 miles before the year is done.  He said that he averages 20 miles a day, though once he covered 47 miles, making for home ahead of an ice storm.  Little Joe, a loyal little terrier, is his traveling buddy.  The mule train made its way up through Mansfield and Marshfield to Seymour.  Barnette and Ken Felts will retrace their steps and be back in Champion Wednesday evening.  They are on their way back to Arkansas, Felts stopping at Viola and Barnette going four hours more over to Warm Springs, arriving there sometime next week.  When asked how much time he spends on the trail, Barnette said, “All I can.”  The Champion News camera battery played out just before they took off up the hill toward Cold Springs, but there are pictures of this bunch on the Square Thursday and wagon train pictures going back to 2008 on-line at  The Wednesday Sometime Porch Band jam was in full swing during the wagon train visit and new-comer to the wagon train and to Champion, Dennis Pierce, of Seymour, suggested that he might come back some time with his fiddle and his guitar.  He says his big problem is that he finds it hard not to dance when the music is lively.

I’ve traveled this world over, a million miles or more, but a moustache on a cabbage head I never did see before.”  That is a line from an old country song that causes laughter to break out in an audience.  It comes to mind when some old Champions broke out in aggravation at ‘a computer in a washing machine.’  The blamed thing would not do what it was told.  The remedy was provided by David Lehmann and came in the form of an old fashioned Maytag minted before laundry equipment was computerized.  It is nice to harken back to the old days, but not so far back as the rub-board.  Mr. Lehmann has a fine old fiddle that he brought it with him when he came to pick up the discarded computer-infested machine.  He tuned up and played “Old Indiana,” “Sweet Betsy from Pike,” and a couple more tunes.  It might be a temptation to have appliance trouble just to get him back in the neighborhood.  He says he likes to have a guitar playing along to help keep time as he has trouble patting his foot.  It just goes to show that almost everybody has some kind of trouble.

Donna Eslinger, one of the tireless organizers of the Pioneer Heritage Festival, says that this year a couple of cowgirls will be riding their horses at the Festival 11am to 3pm both days, October 5th and 6th.  Both “cowgirls” are experienced horse riders and will be available for photo opportunities as they welcome Festival goers and ride around during the Festival.  They are Emma Dry, an 8th grade student, and Devin Rowe, a junior.  Both attend school in Ava.  Watch the weather and bring a hat if it’s going to be hot and sunny.  Bring a lawn chair and an appetite for all the good food, good music and the chance to visit with your friends.  As you walk among the many exhibitors and demonstrators you might think you have stepped back in time.  The old fashioned games of horse shoes and sack races will keep the kids busy, yet some local pioneer history might rub off on them.  A number of Skyline students, and doubtlessly, many Ava School students, are the descendants of some of those old time pioneers to this part of the world.  Skyline superintendent Donnie Luna’s family came over from Kentucky or Tennessee way back in the 1840’s.  When it was suggested those folks came to avoid the Whiskey Tax, he said that after a flood here a few years ago there washed up a big coil of copper, giving hard evidence of the rumor of family-moonshining in previous generations.

Tristian Jeffry is in the 5th grade in Skyline.  His birthday is September 25th.  Fourth grader, Colt Mayberry, celebrates on the 28th.  Melanie Hall is a first grade student with a birthday on September 30th   Graeme Laird, a charming Scotsman, was 42 in 2013 on September 26th.  He has written some great songs, among them is “Now’s the end of the beginning!”  Cathy Alsup Reilly celebrates on the 27th.  She has more than a little family history here, though she lives in Tennessee.  Beck Heston and Lucile Gayman will both be celebrated on the 29th—Becky in Austin or Belize, and Ms. Gayman up in the lovely assisted living facility just north of Mountain Grove.  She will have family and friends wishing her well.  Xue Lynn’s dear old dad may stroll into downtown Champion on foot on his birthday on the 30th.  Birthdays give us the chance to be acknowledged for existing in our shared world as Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!