A couple builds their getaway around their fascination with Jesse James
By Jackie Tucker
I’m not sure where my husband, Allen’s, fascination with Jesse James first started. Maybe it’s the thrill of adventure, the danger of an outlaw or nostalgia of boyhood tales, but for the 30 years we’ve been married, he has had a keen interest in Jesse James and the history of the wild, wild West. So, when Allen started talking months ago about the Jesse James Festival in Kearney, Missouri—just north of Kansas City—I knew we had to make a trip of it.
Festivals, food and a celebration of history
Less about remembering an outlaw, the Jesse James Festival is more about celebrating a historic era that had a significant impact on our country. And celebrate Kearney does—this is the birthplace and resting place of Jesse James, after all. From a colorful carnival and parade to a rodeo, a fishing tournament and a barbecue cook-off, the folks here sure know how to throw a party. The hunger-inducing aroma of Kansas City-style barbecue permeated the air over Jesse James Park as we strolled through the rides and games, where Allen almost threw out his shoulder winning me a bright pink teddy bear.
We followed the scent of barbecue to the cook-off and I tried some of the best pulled pork I’ve ever had in my life. “Well, I can go home happy now,” I said. “Not yet, we’re just getting started!” Allen replied as he wiped his face clean of barbecue sauce.
Allen headed to the fishing tournament while I wandered down the aisles of the arts & crafts fair, picking up a few gifts for the grandkids. At dusk we met back up at the carnival for a romantic turn around the Ferris wheel. It was like we were kids again.
“Thanks for planning this trip, sweetheart,” Allen said with a grin as we looked out over the park from the top of the Ferris wheel.
“Just wait and see what I’ve got in store tomorrow,” I replied.