A Passion for Seeds ~ Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company

I’ve wanted to visit Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company for a long time. For at least ten years I’ve received their catalogs and watched Jere Gettle’s business and family grow. Their festivals have always looked like so much fun, yet I never found the time to make the 2 1/2 hour trip.

My contact there, Kathy McFarland, has been supportive of my blog. When I approached her for a donation for my recent anniversary celebration, I offered to visit and write about them in return, purposely making that commitment so I would finally get to go.

My visit just happened to be on June 21st, the first day of summer. Somehow that seemed appropriate, although I didn’t plan it that way. I would love to visit again during one of their special events, but for this visit I was happy to go when I would get to meet some of the people who would otherwise be too busy. It was a beautiful day and an easy drive. Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company is located in Mansfield, Missouri, about an hour east of Springfield, on the historic Rippee land grant homestead near the Gasconade River.

The Gettle family lives in this beautiful 1906 farmhouse on the company premises.
Warm Welcome

When I arrived I wasn’t sure where to go, so I went into the General Store. The employee there seemed to be expecting me and asked if I was there to see Kathy. That was nice because immediately I felt welcomed and not so lost. While I waited for Kathy, I looked around the charming store. There were racks and racks of seeds, which I had expected to see, but also other products for sale such as gardening books, cooking supplies, decorative items, and even fabrics and sewing patterns. It had the authentic feel of a general store.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Debbie Gettle’s Paintings

I immediately recognized Debbie Gettle’s paintings. Jere’s mother is a talented artist, and many of them had served as beautiful catalog covers in years past. Baker Creek’s catalogs really stand apart from most because of their personality – the artwork, the quotes and trivia, and the photos of the Gettles (especially of their darling daughters, Sasha and Malia) and the people that actually work there and are part of the Baker Creek family, all make them a joy to read, especially during the bleak winter months.

Kathy arrived and it was so nice to meet her in person as she was very warm and friendly. She took me to her office where she told me about the history of the company.

Passion Takes Root

Jere Gettle started his first garden when he was three years old, and learned to read by reading seed packets. As a young child he realized that some varieties of seeds were disappearing from the catalogs and that sprouted his interest in saving seeds. At that time, Jere’s family lived in the northwest, but when Jere was about twelve, his family purchased the land grant homestead in Mansfield, Missouri, where his company is now located. (Emilee later told me that the Gettles moved to Missouri for the climate and the less-constrictive homeschool laws.) His seed collection gradually grew, and soon after moving to Missouri, in his early teens, Jere started selling his seeds at swap meets.

When he was seventeen, Jere made his first seed list, naming it after nearby Baker Creek. That first year he made 250 copies of his catalog, and nearly twenty years later in 2017 they made 750,000! Kathy said that the local banker still tells the story of how Jere walked into the bank carrying a metal bucket full of money to open his first account.

Very first Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog, 1998.
1998 Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog. Photo courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds/rareseeds.com
Pioneer Village

“Bakersville,” the pioneer village, was started in the year 2000 because Jere wanted to host a gathering to talk about seeds. That was the beginning of their festivals which are now held on the first Sunday of the month, March through October, and the village grew up around them. The annual May “Planting Festival,” is the biggest event and attracts 10,000 visitors.

The village consists of many differently-themed buildings and looks like Little House on the Prairie could have been filmed there. During my visit the village was quiet, but during festivals it comes to life with live demonstrations and authentic costumes.

About four years ago, on a trip to Italy, Jere fell in love with their courtyards. When he returned home he designed a similar garden. The fountain was designed by a local potter and then was built by an Amish crew.

Courtyard Garden
The fountain in the courtyard garden was designed by a local potter

Jere also has an interest in heritage breeds of poultry, so there are cages with all sorts of birds throughout the grounds.

As if all of the events at their home office in Mansfield, Missouri, weren’t enough, Baker Creek has branched out and also has events in California. The Seed Bank is housed in an old bank building in Petaluma, an old-gold mining town. At this location they offer special events such as lectures, workshops, and a book club – all gardening related, of course. The 7th annual National Heirloom Exposition will take place in Santa Rosa, California, September 5-7, 2017. The Exposition brings together people who are passionate about pure food and heirloom seeds from all over the world. They have hundreds of speakers and vendors, plus demonstrations. There are even special activities for children. You can learn more about these events by following their links.

Baker Creek Restaurant
Dave Kaiser

I had read about the Baker Creek Restaurant and was excited to experience it. As we walked in, I met Dave Kaiser, whom I immediately recognized from their catalogs. I got to spend quite a bit of time with him, so more about him shortly. The restaurant carried out the pioneer feel with rustic furniture, wooden floors and walls. Each table was adorned with fresh cut flowers.

Their chef, Loghan Call, prepares vegan meals using the bounty of the garden, plus locally-grown produce, as much as possible. Their menu is “ever-changing,” reflecting what’s in season. It’s a donation-based restaurant. They have a suggested donation of $5-10 per person, but you pay what you’re able when you leave the restaurant by leaving it in a donation box.

When you walk in, you have a choice of two beverages which also vary. On my visit I had a choice between homemade lemonade, and lemongrass-blueberry infused water. I chose the pretty pink lemonade.

For lunch, I tried the “Baker Creek Garden Salad with Blueberry, Thyme Dressing,” and “Roasted Tomato and Black Lentil Polenta with Cauliflower Rice and Marinated Zucchini.” I loved the uniqueness and creativity of the menu items, and I felt like I had really eaten a healthy meal. It sure can’t get any fresher! It even included a small scoop of ice cream. That day’s choices were “Thyme,” or “Chocolate Marble.” I chose the Chocolate Marble, but Kathy offered me a sample of her Thyme and both were very good. Their ice creams are also vegan, made with coconut milk.

Dave Kaiser and Kathy McFarland

When Kathy and I finished eating, Dave came and sat with us to visit. Dave has known Jere pretty much since his family moved to the area when he was about 12. Dave’s son, Andrew, was a close friend of Jere’s and helped him in the early days of his budding business. Dave was able to tell me all sorts of stories and he gave me a tour of his own later in the afternoon. But at this point, Emilee came to visit with me so both Kathy and Dave excused themselves.

The First Lady of Bakersville

Both Jere and Emilee are very busy, so I was appreciative of Emilee taking time to sit down with me. She’s such a pretty and charming young lady, and very easy to talk to. Another reason I’ve been a loyal customer of Baker Creek was the homeschooling connection. Both Jere and Emilee were homeschooled, and they are now homeschooling their own children. Since I like writing about both gardening and homeschooling, their family fits both of those interests.

The Gettle family: Jere, Emilee, Sasha, and Malia. Photo courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds/rareseeds.com

I don’t remember exactly when I started getting their catalogs, but I feel like it was a year or two before Jere and Emilee married because I remember her suddenly appearing in the catalog. Emilee told me the story of how they met: She lived in central Missouri and was an only child. She loved writing and had posted in a magazine, seeking a penpal. She said she had over ninety responses, so she started an online magazine for homeschooled girls. After awhile she decided to also write for boys. She had become good friends with a penpal from Tennessee whose mother had recommended the Baker Creek catalog to her. Emilee thought it would be interesting to interview Jere for her magazine, that his story might be of interest to young men. She started communicating with Jere in January, they met in March for the interview, and they were married in August. Emilee commented that she felt like she saw God’s hand in the events that led to them meeting.

I asked Emilee if she gardened before she met Jere. She said that while growing up, her family had gardened and that she also had a garden of her own. Because of it she also learned to love canning. Where Jere enjoys the seed and sowing part, she really prefers the harvesting and preserving part.

Emilee is very creative and is a good compliment to Jere. She has used her writing talent to co-author books, and she served as the Editor-in-Chief of “Heirloom Garden Magazine” which was recently sold.

Homeschooling

I was curious about how homeschooling affected Jere, Emilee, their family and their business. Emilee said that she felt like homeschooling helps kids find their voice. When she was young she went to public school and was shy, but when her parents started homeschooling her, she became more confident.

Emilee characterized Jere’s education as “unschooling” because he was allowed to focus on his interests. Without that, she said that the business would not have happened, noting that even at a very young age, Jere was a member of Seed Savers.

Homeschooled children can learn so much within entrepreneurial families, so I asked Emilee if their daughters would be involved in the business as they grew up. She replied that they already were, that even at 3 years of age, Malia was helping to fill orders by putting the seed packets and receipts in the envelope. Sasha, who is 9, runs her own lemonade stand during special events. The Gettles are teaching their daughters to give back by allowing them to choose an organization to donate up to half of their earnings to. Sasha recently donated about $1000 to earthquake victims in Nepal. Sasha also enjoys cooking and helps her mother prepare their evening meals in the restaurant’s commercial kitchen. “Both are excellent managers…they both tell us what to do,” she laughed. Emilee added that through the family business, both girls are learning people skills, how to treat people. “Lots of kids are so plugged in that they don’t know how to interact,” she said.

Emilee said that she tells her daughters, “You can start really small, like a seed, and grow as big as you want…with a little fertilizer.” Then laughing, she added, “Organic, of course!” She explained what she meant by “fertilizer” by saying that they have made connections with their competitors – that they didn’t grow by stepping on people, but by working with them. “We don’t really gain anything by being islands. Organic growers accomplish more by joining forces.”

The Gettles’ business requires extensive traveling. They’ve been to many different countries and usually stay for a month at a time. Jere always takes his family with him, so their daughters are growing up being exposed to a range of different cultures and languages. Some of the countries Emilee named that they had recently visited were Mexico, Thailand, and Abu Dhabi. Their next trip will be this fall to China where they plan to adopt two children.

When I was eating lunch in the restaurant, I noticed the Gettles eating lunch together as a family on the other side. Most families in our culture today are dispersed by their different job and school schedules. One of the biggest blessings of homeschooling is the ability of the family unit to spend so much more time together, resulting in stronger bonds, and the Gettle family is definitely taking advantage of that.

Emilee’s Endeavors

Besides contributing to Baker Creek Seed Company and homeschooling their daughters, Emilee has other pursuits. She is starting a new business in which she’ll sell children’s clothing and toys made with natural materials. Her goal is to be fair trade and organic. She still has not settled on the name, but hopes to launch her new business soon. You can follow her on Facebook under “Heirloom Girl.” She also recently completed her second Bachelor’s degree, so now she has two: one in Christian Education, and one in Maternal Health. She’s also a Certified Lactation Consultant. She’s a very busy lady!

Behind the Scenes Tour

When I finished visiting with Emilee I went outside to look around more and take pictures. I soon bumped into Dave Kaiser and he offered to show me around the facilities. As we walked to the warehouse, he pointed out the little cabin where he lived. Although it looks old and rickety, it’s just designed to look that way. It’s actually fairly new.

The cabin where Dave lives

As you might guess, there are many different gardens on the premises. There is one large garden that is solely for the restaurant. The others are “trial” gardens and have three purposes: 1) to test new seeds, 2) to grow seeds to give to contractors, and 3) for photographs.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company contracts with over 200 small farmers all over the world to produce most of their seeds. The remaining seeds are purchased from seed houses, but the Gettles are picky, buying only non-GMO stock.

Growing Like a Weed

January through March is Baker Creek’s busy season. At one time they hand-typed the forms, picked and packed the seeds by hand, and could fill about 1000 orders a day. Currently, they have an automated system that allows them to fill 3000 orders per day.

Inside the current warehouse, Dave introduced me to some of the employees and described the machinery and how it works. I was surprised at how high-tech it was. I got to see one of the machines in action that automatically fills seed packets and seals them.

Dave showing me the current packaging system.
This machine automatically measures out seeds, fills and seals seed packets.

Then he showed me the new warehouse and the new system which will triple the daily number of orders they’re able to fill. When it’s completed they’ll be able to handle about 9000 orders a day. Don’t let Bakersville’s pioneer village fool you. Behind that facade, the company is actually high-tech.

The new warehouse automated system being designed and built.
Greenhouses
Tamarillo

Jere has a private greenhouse where he grows tropical plants. Dave let me sample a Tamarillo, a fruit that he says people either love or hate. I thought it had a unique flavor that would take some getting used to.

In a second, larger greenhouse there were huge banana trees, citrus trees, and plants that were being tested. While passing through I happened to see Malia and took this cute picture of her.

Malia and a caretaker among the banana trees.
Plants being tested

This greenhouse wasn’t big enough for the tall banana trees that were scraping the ceiling. Dave showed me the beginning of a huge new geodesic greenhouse that was being built where that wouldn’t be a problem anymore.

Fresh from Peru

During the tour, we entered an office where Dave showed me a basket of corn and beans that were recently procured from Peru. It was really interesting to see the different sizes and colors of corn and beans. They were bagged and waiting to go through the process of cataloging and testing.

A unique specimen of corn from Peru.
Dave thought these beans from Peru looked like they had fingerprints on them.

From there, Dave showed me the “seed bank” where they store small quantities of seeds for safekeeping. The dark and chilly, concrete-encased room also serves as the company’s storm shelter.

Seeds stored for safekeeping in the Seed Bank
Tour’s End

We ended up back at the General Store where Dave pointed out the very first Baker Creek Seed Company display that Jere built. It was very nice for Dave to spend that time with me, giving me his personal tour.

The first Baker Creek Seed Company display

I had a wonderful visit to Bakersville and I hope you enjoyed reading about it. I’ve included links to make it easy to visit their website to request a catalog or order some seeds. I can definitely recommend a visit to Mansfield. Not only can you visit Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, but the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder is also located there. Not too far away is Branson, Missouri, another nice place for family vacations.

Helpful Links

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company

Heirloom Girl on Facebook

Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum

A Passion for Seeds ~ The Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company-2

 

 

 

The Power of Music Festival Spotlights Songwriters

Songwriters will be in the spotlight during the first annual Power of Music Festival to be held in Bentonville, Arkansas, April 27-29, 2017. There are few festivals that feature the writers behind hit songs, and Northwest Arkansas will be the home of this newest one. The creation of Betsy Brumley-Bernier, granddaughter of Albert E. Brumley, and her husband, Kevin Bernier, the Power of Music Festival will bring songwriters from all over the United States, as well as outside of it, representing all genres of music.

Betsy Brumley-Bernier and husband, Kevin Bernier. Photo courtesy of I’ll Fly Away Foundation.

Betsy says it was Kevin’s idea – he said they knew songwriting, why not have a festival?! Since she grew up in the music business, Betsy was able to reach out to writers and sponsors. She just called the people she already knew. It was a way to honor her grandfather’s memory, as well as benefit the region where she grew up and now lives.

The festival will be composed of both entertaining and educational events. The presenting sponsor for the festival is Coca-Cola. Roger Cook, the writer of “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing,” which you probably remember from Coca-Cola’s advertising, is appropriately among the songwriters that will attend.

The Mission

The Power of Music Festival is a fundraiser for the I’ll Fly Away Foundation. Named for Albert Brumley’s well-known southern gospel song, the mission of the foundation is…

…to inspire youth with the power of music by imparting the fundamentals of songwriting. The artistry of songwriting provides youth with a means of self expression, a creative outlet to explore, and a voice to reach out to others.

The foundation works towards its mission by providing a songwriting program called “You Can Fly” to schools. Students attend special daily sessions for one week where they are taught the art and creation of songwriting by an accomplished songwriter. By the end of the week they have collaborated on writing two songs. The program started in public elementary schools in McDonald County, Missouri, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. With the proceeds from the festival, the program will be expanded so that students in Northwest Arkansas can experience its many benefits. The I’ll Fly Away Foundation website lists some amazing statistics that underscore the importance of music to students’ overall achievement. To learn more about the programs and even listen to a few of the songs, visit the “Programs” page of the foundation.

Songwriter Shannon Wurst leading the “You Can Fly” Program at Pineville Elementary 3rd Grade. Photo courtesy of I’ll Fly Away Foundation.

 

Entertainment

Entertainment will take place at venues around downtown Bentonville. Two or three songwriters on stage will take turns telling the stories behind their songs and then singing them. The performances are all acoustic and will last 60-90 minutes.

To see the complete list of attending artists and their bios, follow this link. You may not recognize some of the names, but chances are that you would be familiar with some of the songs they’ve written.

Education

Informational panels will be offered on different topics related to the music industry. Some of the intriguing titles are “How to Build a Music City,” “Music as a Real Job,” and “Cash for Your Songs.”

A few of the notable guests are:

  • Tom Schuyler, whose songs have been recorded by over 200 artists, will have a workshop with local songwriters where he will work with them on their songs.
  • Barbara Cloyd has been associated with Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee, for over thirty years. Their famous “Open Mike” nights were her idea and have been credited with the discovery of many well-known artists, including Taylor Swift and Garth Brooks. Open Mike nights have become one of the “go-to” places for aspiring performers and there are more people in line to sing than there are seats for patrons.

A full listing of the panels can be found on the festival website.

Ticketing

All events are open to the public. Some are free and others are ticketed. Free performances will take place at Lawrence Plaza.

  • VIP tickets are $299 for all three days. VIPs are seated first in ticketed events and also have access to the Green Room, a hospitality suite for the songwriters and featured speakers. Hurry, as there is a limited quantity of 100 VIP tickets available!
  • A weekend pass is $199, but Early Bird rates offer savings if purchased before deadlines.
  • Day passes are: Thursday $75; Friday $85, and Saturday $95.
  • After ticket holders are seated, remaining seats will be sold at the door.

You can purchase tickets here.

Big Goals

The Power of Music Festival aspires to become the biggest festival of its kind. It’s not too late to become involved, and there are still opportunities for sponsorship. For more information, visit The Power of Music Festival website.

The arts scene in Northwest Arkansas has really changed in recent years. Crystal Bridges museum brought international attention to the area, then a few years ago the Bentonville Film Festival brought celebrities, and now The Power of Music Festival will boost the music industry. If you haven’t visited Northwest Arkansas, you may be pleasantly surprised by all it has to offer.

Helpful Links

The Power of Music Festival Facebook Page

The Power of Music Festival website

I’ll Fly Away Foundation

The Power of Music Festival Spotlights Songwriters

Jamie’s Restaurant, Harrison, Arkansas ~ Worth the Drive

My husband and I prefer eating at local diners when possible. We just think it’s fun to get a feel for the local flavor and support small businesses. Occasionally, we stumble onto a real gem. That happened when we stopped at Jamie’s Restaurant in Harrison, Arkansas.

Jamie’s Restaurant, Harrison, Arkansas

Located on the end of a strip center, Jamie’s had a cute exterior, but it didn’t give away the secret of what was inside. The waitstaff all wore black uniforms and delivered dishes that looked like they were coming out of a five-star restaurant kitchen.

Jamie’s Restaurant Interior

As I was looking over the menu, I couldn’t help but overhear the couple at the next table, “oohing” and “aahing” over their lunch. So I turned around and asked what they had ordered. One of them had gotten chicken strips and French Fries. I couldn’t help but wonder what could be so special about that ordinary dish to make her rave like that. Her husband had gotten the Creole Blackened Catfish, and he, too, raved and said it was “excellent.”

Returning to all of the tempting options on the menu, I decided to try the Broiled Lemon Pepper Catfish ($9.99) It came with a small Strawberry Salad. My husband, Scott, ended up ordering the Hand Breaded Chicken Strips and French Fries. ($8.99) I rushed to get a picture before he dove into it.

Hand Breaded Chicken Strips and French Fries

Afterwards, I asked him how he liked them. He said, “They were fresh and moist, not overcooked. They were excellent,”and then added, “they exceeded my expectations.”

I could say the same for mine. The catfish fillet, served over a bed of rice, was moist and cooked to perfection. The salad looked amazing with fresh mixed greens, strawberries, orange segments, and a sprinkle of chopped nuts. I asked for the dressing on the side. I don’t know exactly what it was but I would describe it as a strawberry vinaigrette. It was delicious and a little went a long way. I loved seeing the red stem of a baby chard leaf in there! So pretty!

Broiled Lemon Pepper Catfish and Strawberry Salad

They served their drinks in quart-sized Mason jars, and even the black straws kept with their black theme. Their menu had an amazing variety of old favorites, healthy options, and gourmet adventures. We felt the prices were very reasonable, especially with the high quality of the dishes. We couldn’t help but notice all of the beautiful presentations as meals were delivered to tables around us.

If you’re ever in the vicinity of Harrison, Arkansas, then you should definitely make a point of visiting Jamie’s Restaurant. Take it from Michelle and Scott – it is definitely worth the drive.

Jamie’s Restaurant Facebook Page

Related Reading

Greater Inspiration ~ An Interview with David Hunt

Cedarwood Lodge ~ Trout-Fishing Destination

We recently met some close friends for a weekend at Cedarwood Lodge on the White River near Flippin, Arkansas. It was such a nice resort and we had such a good time! The owners, Ken and Mary Ann Green, were very nice and welcoming. They even arranged great weather. My first impression was “Wow!” You just never know what to expect when you go somewhere new, and Cedarwood Lodge exceeded our expectations!

White River
White River from Cedarwood Lodge Dock

Located right on the White River, the views were beautiful, and the setting serene. It was the perfect place to feel like we were getting away, and yet still have everything we needed to be comfortable and have a great time. Grocery stores, including a Walmart Super Center, were only about a twenty-minute drive away.

Accommodations
River Cottage at Cedarwood Lodge
River Cottage

The lodge consists of three different buildings that can accomodate up to 25 people, plus a separate Dining Hall. Our party consisted of 12, so we stayed in a combination of the River Lodge and River Cottage.

Cedarwood Lodge River Lodge
River Lodge

We were also able to use the Dining Hall for our meals so that there was plenty of room for us to all cook and eat together. I was really impressed with how well-stocked the kitchens were. It was so nice to have everything we needed to make our gluttonous meals.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The grounds were well-kept and nicely landscaped, and offered a variety of options for gathering both indoors and out.

Fishing

Trout fishing is the claim to fame of the area. Some of us used one of Cedarwood Lodge’s rental boats, and others hired Bent Rod Guide Service. They all caught their limit of fish and had a great time.

Happy Fishermen at Cedarwood Lodge
Happy Fishermen

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cedarwood Lodge has Rental Boats
Goin’ Fishin’!
Shore Lunch

As a special treat, we experienced the “shore lunch” offered by the Bent Rod fishing guides. They provided fried trout, fried potatoes, cole slaw, and macaroni salad. They even brought boiled eggs from their own chickens, and sliced tomatoes straight out of their garden! One of their wives is a baker, so they brought an assortment of generous cake slices for dessert. It’s called a “shore lunch,” because normally they fix it right on the shore for their clients, but on this occasion they were able to use this nice dining hall. It was quite a feast, and you can’t eat your fish any fresher!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Escaping & Exploring

If fishing isn’t your thing, then you might enjoy reading a good book on the deck overlooking the river, visiting with friends, or just relaxing.

Relaxing on the Cedarwood Lodge deck overlooking the White River
Relaxing on the deck overlooking the White River

The girls went exploring. We found some flea markets and enjoyed the quaint towns and beautiful river views. We also went for an invigorating morning walk down the country roads.

Flea Market in Gassville Arkansas
Flea Market in Gassville Arkansas

You also don’t have to be totally unplugged as all the cabins have TVs with satellite, and internet wi-fi.

Club 178

My husband and I arrived the day before the others, so we ventured to Bull Shoals to eat at Club 178. We were surprised to find this hidden gem – they had wonderful food and an upscale atmosphere. It would be suitable for a special evening or celebration, but equally comfortable for a more casual night out.

If you’re looking for a place where you can take your family or friends for a great getaway, then take a look at Cedarwood Lodge‘s website for more information. When you call Mary Ann to book your stay, tell her the Mid-Life Blogger sent you. It would tickle me pink to send a deserving business some new customers. I’d say it’s definitely worth the drive!

If you subscribe, future posts will be delivered straight to your inbox, so you don’t have to go fishin’ for ’em!

Helpful Links:

Bent Rod Guide Service

Cedarwood Lodge

Club 178

Cedarwood Lodge
Cedarwood Lodge

BBQ Station in Cassville, MO – Worth the Drive

About eight years ago, my husband, Scott, came across a building for sale in Cassville, Missouri, that seemed like a good deal, so he bought it not knowing for sure what he would do with it.

Welcome to BBQ Station!
Welcome to BBQ Station!

At first, he considered opening a flea market, but ended up deciding to open a restaurant with his younger brother, Joel, and his wife, Tanya. While growing up in Bentonville, Arkansas, Scott’s parents, Gil and Sue Curren, had owned a restaurant called “Gil’s Burger Bar,” and Scott worked there during his teens, gaining a lot of experience.

The new restaurant became a family affair, beginning with the renovation of the building. Scott and Joel did some construction work to reconfigure the space, while other family members helped with stripping wallpaper and painting. Joel & Tanya, Scott, and Sue, experimented with recipes to develop the restaurant’s menu with a Texas barbecue theme. Almost everything they sell there is homemade, including their three proprietary barbecue sauces.

Owners of BBQ Station
Sydney, Tanya, and Joel Curren

When it came to decorating, we wanted you to have a lot to look at while wiping the delicious barbecue sauce off your chin, so we all contributed and many of the items in the restaurant have a story behind them. Most of the taxidermied mounts were a result of Scott’s hunting and fishing hobbies.

Texas License Plates by Mid-Life Blogger
“Pa’s” Old Texas License Plates

There are many old license plates in the restaurant, but two of them hold special meaning as they were the last plates on their grandfather’s truck. My sister-in-law, Tanya, is a talented painter and she hand-painted canvases as well as cowbells and cowboy boots. She also designed the restaurant’s logo. Uncle Don Curren is a woodworker and made some pig-shaped cutouts that Tanya painted to use as chalkboards.

Cowbells Painted by Tanya Curren
Cowbells Painted by Tanya Curren
Pig Painting by Tanya Curren on Mid-Life Blogger
Pig Painting by Tanya Curren

Joel used his carpentry skills to make the front counter, using wood that his father had saved from their church when it was remodeled. The weathered tin and reclaimed wood along the front came from an old lumber mill that was on his parents’ land in Missouri. Their father, Gil, made the paper towel holders for the tables. Pigs were part of the restaurant from the beginning, but loyal customers have contributed even more of them over the years. That’s just a sampling of some of the stories behind the decor.

Joel with Customers by Mid-Life Blogger
Joel with Customers at BBQ Station
Joel Carving Meat to Order at BBQ Station
Joel Carving Meat to Order

BBQ Station continues to be a family affair as many of our family members work there. Joel and Tanya own and manage it now, and their mother, Sue, has worked there from the beginning, contributing her own restaurateur experience.

Sydney Serves Sides with a Smile
Sydney Serves Sides with a Smile

Gil’s sister, Deanna Johnston, designed their website (link below). It has also had the benefit of giving all of our kids the opportunity to gain some work experience.

BBQ Station offers Barbecued Ribs, Pulled-Pork, Brisket, Chicken and Sausage. The meats are cooked the old-fashioned way, hand-rubbed and smoked more than fourteen hours over real hickory. One of my favorites, the St. Louis-cut ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender, just the way I like ’em. Their unique “Baked Potato Salad” is a customer favorite, and other sides include cole slaw, green beans, cornbread, baked beans, pinto beans, and (chilled) potato salad. For dessert they have brownies, cobblers and ice cream.

Ribs Hot Off the Smoker at BBQ Station
Ribs Hot Off the Smoker at BBQ Station
BBQ Station Ribs by Mid-Life Blogger
Tender and Juicy BBQ Station Ribs

They also offer fresh salads with your choice of warm smoked chicken or pulled pork on top, and a wide variety of salad dressings.

BBQ Station Salad by Mid-Life Blogger
Fresh Salad With Smoked Chicken at BBQ Station

They have even named a few menu items after regular customers who originated them, such as the “Marple Bowl” or “The Huse” hamburger. Which reminds me, they also have amazing hamburgers! The burgers, famous from Gil’s Burger Bar days, have been reincarnated at BBQ Station. Want some heat? How about made-to-order BBQ Nachos with jalapeños?

BBQ Station Cheeseburger
BBQ Station Cheeseburger
BBQ Nachos at BBQ Station by Mid-Life Blogger
BBQ Nachos at BBQ Station, Cassville, MO

On a low-carb diet? No problem. You can have any of the meats with green beans and a side salad, or if you choose an entree salad topped with warm and tender smoked meat you won’t feel like you’re missing anything. I personally really enjoy the contrast of the warm smoked chicken on the cool, crisp greens. Very refreshing on a hot summer day! BBQ Station has even more to offer than I can list, with additional specials that vary throughout the week or season.  I truly believe there is something for everybody.

Memphis-Style Pulled Pork Sandwich and Baked Potato Salad
Memphis-Style Pulled Pork Sandwich and Baked Potato Salad
Blackberry Cobbler a la Mode
Blackberry Cobbler a la Mode

BBQ Station has excellent ratings on a variety of restaurant-rating services. People come from long distances to eat there and they get catering jobs from near and far. If you haven’t already visited then I encourage you to, but please note that they are closed on Sunday and Monday. I’m proud of the great job that Joel and Tanya have done in running BBQ Station and making it something we can all be proud of. Now that our daughter is working there, she reports multiple customers each day approaching Joel and Tanya to rave about the food, or inquire if Food Network has been there yet. It is definitely worth the drive!

If you think others would enjoy this article, you can help all of us by sharing. To receive new posts right in your inbox, please subscribe.

Helpful Links:
BBQ Station website
BBQ Station on Facebook
Trip Advisor review

BBQ Station - Cassville, MO
BBQ Station – Cassville, MO