Leadership Jackson County team creates historic tavern trail

At each stop, just ask some of the staff members about the history of the tavern and you might be amazed.

What you see on the walls may tell stories about the places, too.

With that in mind, the Leadership Jackson County history project team of Reid Martin, Ralph Melbourne, Stephanie Strothmann and Whitney Wessel created the Historic Jackson County Tavern Trail.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

They researched taverns in communities around the county over the years. While they found many, they decided to feature those that trace their history back 50-plus years.

They narrowed it down to include Bluebird Cafe in Vallonia, Perry Street Tavern in Medora, Blake’s Place in Brownstown, Bubba’s Place and Poplar Street Restaurant and Bar in Seymour, Luke’s Country Inn in Dudleytown and The Thirsty Sportsman in Crothersville.

On the front of an 11-by-17-inch pamphlet is a map of Jackson County with images of each place that Melbourne created on a computer with a corresponding number.

On the back, the address, hours, “gotta try” items and bar facts of each place are listed.

“Most of them have a tenderloin available,” Martin said.

“We kept asking, ‘What’s good here?’ and everyone told us the tenderloin,” Melbourne said.

The back of the pamphlet also lists three “gone but not forgotten” taverns and six newer places to try.

There also is space for someone to write their own history by sharing a new story they learned on the trail and the date they took the tour. Plus, those who go with you on the trail can sign or stamp the back and take a picture and post on social media with #jacksoncountytaverntrail.

“As part of history, we know that a lot of these venues play the location for celebrations, birthdays and other events,” Melbourne said. “Going in them and talking with the owners, what really struck us is that part of why they’ve had such longevity is the people involved. Most of them are family-owned, and they stay in the same family for 40, 50, 60 years. Some of them have family bartending all the way back to the ‘30s.”

That kind of common thread through the community became something the team wanted to capture as part of the history, Melbourne said.

“Just getting out and being with your neighbors, this is a good place to do that,” he said. “Even ask the people that are serving, ‘What’s going on? What’s the history?’ You would be amazed how many stories they could tell you.”

The team plans to have the pamphlets available at the Jackson County Visitor Center in Seymour and at each of the taverns.

Being an attorney, Melbourne also made sure to include a disclaimer on the pamphlet about drinking responsibly and having a designated driver.