One of the reasons I love my job is the hidden gems I find while traveling for an interview – things you won't find by simply driving on the interstate. This might be a Red Dirt radio station in the Flint Hills or a small-town diner in the Ozarks.
This week, a meeting and field day took me to Weston, Missouri. I had been to Weston before, since it's only 30 minutes north of where I live in Kansas City. At one point in the 1800s, the town's population rivaled Kansas City's. Now it is home to a several historic shops, restaurants, a distillery, brewery and winery.
However, I had never noticed the New Deal Tobacco Warehouse, where the meeting was held. This is a working tobacco warehouse that serves tobacco farmers in northern Platte County – southern Platte County makes up Kansas City's outskirts. As it turns out, the area is a leading producer of tobacco. Needless to say, it's hard to find a tobacco farm along the Missouri River, or west of the Mississippi for that matter.
The warehouse was built in the 1960s to bring tobacco farmers and buyers together. In the 1990s, it started selling agricultural supplies, feed, seed and chemicals, in addition to the burley tobacco business.
Within the walls of the warehouse is something else I didn't think I'd find in northwest Missouri – an opry, or country music hall, decorated with tin walls and numerous country instruments. This reminded me of the Chicken Inn, a country venue across the highway from the farm I grew up on. Cline's Opry in Weston has performances every Sunday night and is owned by Ted and Kirbi Cline, who used to farm in the area. An opry inside a tobacco warehouse – definitely not something you'll find driving down the interstate.