Well, you could really tell that it was Cherry Blossom time in Webster County as the weather was strange this past weekend. Always seems to rain during Cherry Blossom time.

I want to begin by congratulating Savannah Shannon of Olga for placing in the first annual “Viola Weeks Memorial Fiddle Contest.” I know that Viola would have been proud to see all the young people who turned out. The building had a large crowd in it and everyone loved the music. It was a great highlight of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Marshfield. Sharon Shannon handled the arrangements for the competition and she did such a great job. Many of you will remember Viola Weeks as the oldest member of the Webster County Opry and she played the fiddle past her 100th birthday. We loved her so much and I was glad that I was able to be at the competition with one of my daughters.

I appreciate all of you who have lifted up the family of Raymond Hargis, my uncle. Uncle Raymond passed away recently and he will be missed by so many in the Olga, Dogwood, Union Chapel and Chadwick communities. He was my step father’s (Philip Hargis) brother. He had a nice service in Ozark. He is survived by a host of loved ones and friends.

It was nice to see Olga residents Jamey and Diana Wright at the Presidential Prayer Breakfast on Saturday outside of Marshfield. They were there to see Georgia Beason, Diana’s mother receive the Cherry Blossom Medal. Georgia is such a gracious lady and we have enjoyed getting to know her. The building was full of those enjoying the fellowship, breakfast food and the speech made by Mary McDonough (Erin, The Walton’s). She gave such a great talk and the breakfast was terrific. It is hosted each year by the church where we attend, Elkland Independent Methodist. Donnie Kendrick (Mary Todd Lincoln family) gave the opening prayer for the morning event.

I was honored to attend the 99th birthday celebration of Dr. Ken Hechler this weekend. He was honored at a party at the Marshfield United Methodist Church. He is such a great man and has touched so many lives. He is the oldest living former member of Congress and was an aide to President Truman. He was a speech writer for Truman as well and was the only member of Congress to march with Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama. It was a nice tribute that included music, speeches by Clifton Truman Daniel (grandson of Harry Truman), David Ames and Arnold Schnobrich (his cousin) and a great film about his life. There were many from across the area at this celebration of a life uncommon.

I appreciate Mark and Dixie Dawson for the great “State Dinner” that they put together at Blackberry Creek Retreat the other night for the Cherry Blossom Festival. It was completely sold out and I enjoyed visiting with the ladies next to me, Diane Humes (former Nixon secretary) and Joyce Smith. The food was delicious and I was surprised to see so many faces that I had not seen awhile, several from the Seymour and Fordland area. Paul Burrell (Princess Diana Butler) was the keynote speaker and he was introduced by Jonathan Sandys (great grandson of Sir Winston Churchill). It was fascinating to listen to them both. Afterward, I joined members of my family for the get together at the home of Barbara Herren. We always enjoy gathering there at the end of the festival with all the VIP guests, host families, committee members, etc. I really enjoyed sitting and visiting with Virgina Roedder (Polk family). It is so gracious for her to host us all each year and everyone has a great time there. We have made so many dear friends through the festival and look forward to gathering with them each spring here in Webster County.

I will close with a quote from my favorite festival guest, Bill Hayes (Doug, Days of our Lives) who was at the festival with is wife, Susan Hayes (Julie, Days of our Lives). “Love, live and laugh and cherish those who are the dearest to you.”