A day in the country, a true American story
By EMMA PALOVA
EW Emma’s Writings
Keene Township- Smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, butt rub, jalapeno sausages and maple syrup, all in one place.
I stood in a line for one hour to get my share of the country goodies at the Jones Farm Market deep in the fields of the Midwest.
It was a chilly May morning with wind blowing from the west that also hauled in the smell from cows and pigs.
The line stayed the same all along due to the steady stream of visitors. Right in front of me there were three big blue striped tents and a band playing Stevie Wonder songs underneath. You would expect a country band.
The Jones Customer Appreciation Day takes place once a year always on the third Saturday in May. Speaking about killer timing: the event takes place between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. Who doesn’t want to grill?
Moreover, four generations of owners, are right there on hand to chat in spite of the overall frenzy.
The younger ones were sporting black t-shirts that on the front read, “Where’s the beef?” With the answer on the back, “Next to pork.”
Pork is big here. It’s sold by the tons.
“We probably sell more than a ton of pork strips and steaks,” said the owner jovial Phil Jones. “Three thousand pounds of bacon and 9,000 pounds of ground beef.”
“I bet, I saw the commercial on TV,” I said referring to Jones son Lee talking about meat on the camera.
“Yes, Lee wants to be a movie star,” Phil laughed.
This down-to-earth man has led the meat business for the last 40 years, 20 of which he served as the Keene Township supervisor.
“You know you can do only so much in church,” Phil said in our previous interview.
“Now it seems like I am going to retire for the 25th time,” he laughed.
The last time I was at the market for a story, Phil’s wife Janet was watching their great grandchild who slept in a large meat box.
“That’s how we raise them right here at the market,” said Phil.
Most customers know the Joneses on a first name basis.
The Customer Appreciation Day has grown over the years from a small picnic to an annual event worth waiting for.
The younger son Karl was in charge of grilling. And what a meal for one dollar. One dollar here buys you, the Jones signature sausage, potato salad, sauerkraut, baked beans, and a cookie.
I browsed the booths in search of a treasure and I found a metal artist. I started taking photos of his metal welded Emu. The Emu had a belly with a pot of flowers and his tail was made from license plates.
“That will cost you $5,” he said.
“But I am a writer,” I said.
“Then, you can take all the pictures you want,” he said.
I have his business card. It states boldly, Jamee’s Repurposed metal art.
I have a knack for finding these special treats at country festivals. They range from great men to great women, and whatever they make.
Sometimes they’re weavers, soap makers and bird house makers. Artists and artisans who want to make it big, just like the metal guy Jamee and his nurse girl friend who supports him.
And of course there’s a whole different chapter to this great American story: the old car collectors with a Ford 1915 convertible on display at the grounds of the farm market. The vehicle was sort of reminiscent of a tractor.
We came here for meat and sausage & we found a special bond, something that we all have in common: love for the big country.
Copyright © 2014 story and photos by Emma Palova