Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 23, 2018

Country Gold creates new memories, brings back old ones

Sep 01, 2017
Photo by: Grace King The favorite of Country Gold, Leroy Van Dyke, was the first to take the state at the Midwest Old Threshers reunion Thursday night.


By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


When Leroy Van Dyke took the stage at Country Gold during Midwest Old Threshers on Thursday night, Lillian Starks was thinking about her mother.

Ten years ago, Starks waited in line at Old Threshers to get signed sheet music of the song “Auctioneer” for her mother. That much-anticipated and much-loved song by Starks means even more to her now as she listens to it in memory of her mother who died five years ago.

“It was her favorite music,” Starks said. “Hearing Van Dyke meant a lot to her.”

Van Dyke shared the stage Thursday night with David Frizzell, Moe Bandy, and Rex Allen Jr., who is currently on his goodbye tour. This is Van Dyke’s 17th appearance at Old Threshers. Last night’s concert was streamed to 84 countries and was being filmed as part of a documentary.

As people leisurely found their seats and set up lawn chairs in front of the Old Threshers bandstand, Starks wasn’t the only one thinking about loved ones who had died.

Kenneth Kirkham, of Livopill, Mo., has been attending Old Threshers since 1973, only missing one year during that time. He was first brought here by his grandfather, who had been a coal miner all his life and loved looking at the old steam engines.

Through the years, Kirkham has come to Old Threshers in memory of his grandfather, but has picked up some new traditions along the way, like attending Country Gold and adding a new coin to his collection every year.

While some concert-goers were reminiscing, Jessica Thompson was fidgeting in her seat in excited anticipation to hear her favorite genre of music. A Mt. Pleasant native, she was first introduced to Country Gold by her high school sweatheart, but now it’s just a hobby for her and her friends.

Thompson said she comes to Country Gold every year. Maybe with time, she can make it as much of a tradition as Kirkham and Jacqueline Callahan from St. Paul, Minn., who has been attending Old Threshers for 26 years. Although not typically a concert-goer Callahan said that the atmosphere of Country Gold is her scene.

“It’s safe,” Callahan said. “It’s some place where you can bring your kids and not worry about them.”

Kim Smith, of Burlington agrees. “They’re genuine, real guys,” she said. “I’ve listened to them for a long time. Everyone is just relaxed.”

While most concert-goers were also happy to just be at Old Threshers, Pat Grebenstedt, of Shelbina, Mo., said that she drove to Mt. Pleasant just for Country Gold. “This is our era of music,” she said.

As for Jeff Fraise, of Ft. Madison, he’s trading one enjoyable, relaxing night of his favorite artists for a month of watching Home and Garden with his wife Kathy for dragging her here.

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