One of the longest running annual events- it's beyond being called a meeting- is the No-Till Breakfast held somewhere in Ripley County every year, usually around the first of March. The magic date this year was March 11. I think I've attended all but one- I had a commitment a couple years back I couldn't get out of.
It's the place to be in southeast Indiana on the chosen date. As many as 200 people have shown up. The only problem is that unless you're form southeast Indiana, you may not know where the 'place to be' is located!
This meeting started in what was once a Waffle House restaurant near Batesville. The brainchild of Andy Ertel, then a watershed coordinator in that part of the world, it quickly outgrew that location and moved to a restaurant in Osgood, or was it Napoleon? My memory isn't what it once was, just like the old gray mare, sort of. Then it went to a large meeting hall, another private club for a year or so, a lodge in Milan where limited parking put cars al the way back to the state highway, and finally to the Hopewell Baptist Church, a rather large church in the middle of absolutely nowhere! Officially, it's somewhere southwest of Osgood, northeast of Dabney and north by northeast of Holton. Unless you have traveled southeast Indiana or hail from there, you should be as clueless as I was trying to find it the other morning.
What's aggravating is that I've been there now four or five times. So this time I thought I didn't need to call the soil and water conservation district secretary and bother her for directions. I knew vaguely where it is. As a matter of fact, that's still all I know as of this very minute- vaguely where it is!
I Googled up the county map, kept drilling in until I found the church and the road numbers. I have a gps unit for my car, but I thought, heck, I've been there before, I won't need it. Mistake number one!
I try not to be late, especially where breakfast tis involved. And this one features biscuits and gravy, eggs with ham, two kinds of sausage, and more biscuits and gravy, and juice, and coffee, for after the sausage settles in and the eyes get a bit droopy.
So I roll south of Osgood still on time, looking for the road that angles back to the northeast. Not surprisingly, it's called Hopewell Road. I was looking for a little wide spot called Dabney, which also has a Baptist Church. What I didn't remember was that it's not directly on highway 421. The map certainly didn't make that clear. Maybe Google needs to Google some more on their own.
So I wind up a few miles south of where I knew I needed to be. I go west, then head north, pas the Dabney Baptist Church. I finally reach Fairgrounds Road. That's a road someone who attends told me never to use- it was too crooked, even though it heads out of Osgood and runs over to a road that eventually leads to the church.
Well I knew I was too far north again. So I headed west on the dreaded Fairgrounds Road then decided maybe I was to far west- so I turned around, went back until I found a road headed south, and took it. I ended up back a the little Church in Dabney. Then I finally spied the angling road running between the church and the railroad tracks, back to the northeast. That's got to be it, I thought. Sure enough, it passed a cemetery, Hopewell Baptist Church Cemetery.
Finally, half an hour late, I pulled up. I was so late there was nowhere to park, so I made my own spot. But I was in time to get breakfast before they cleared down the serving line. I apologize to Gail Peas because I missed half of her opening talk. The rest of the meeting is farmers answering questions for each other, the unique part of the meeting.
Gail is with the state Farm Service Agency office, and she came from Indianapolis to talk about conservation programs that were available. Gail lives in Clinton County, where roads runs straight and road numbers mean something- she's a flatlander!
Well, after the meeting, I'm headed out the door, and there's Gail, with a couple other ladies.
"Sorry I missed the first part of your talk, Gail," I said. "I got lost, and it makes me mad because I've been here before."
"That's OK," she laughed. "I have no clue where we are. I had to have these ladies drive me down here. It was the only way they were going to get me here."
Hey, guys in the Ripley County SWCD, keep having the meeting. It's the best around. And I love the Church. But did you ever think about some helpful signs the day of the event for us non-locals who are getting long in the tooth and gray on top?
See you next year. And by the way, it will be by Fairgrounds Road. It may be crooked, but it got me out, and it's now the only way I know to get back in.