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Nash Creek Radio

Nash Creek Radio is the podcast featuring John Terry of Nash Creek Industries.

Nash Creek Radio – Episode 1: Back to the Beer Tent

Dennie Middleton, Jeff Okkonen, Brad Franck, and Nick Lewis (left to right) on stage at the Sparta Beer Tent in 2016. Everett Domeier is just out of the frame to the right. Sorry, Ev!

Dennie Middleton, Jeff Okkonen, Brad Franck, and Nick Lewis (left to right) on stage at the Sparta Beer Tent in 2016. Everett Domeier is just out of the frame to the right. Sorry, Ev!

The beer tent was a mysterious and tempting place when I was a kid. There didn’t seem to be any official rule that said youngsters couldn’t be inside – but I had a sense I was supposed to stay out.

That was Dad territory.

There were always a few Budweisers in the fridge at home. And he enjoyed having a couple-three-four cold ones at the Rogue River Golf Course clubhouse after his Tuesday night golf league. Or at the Moose Lodge. Or hanging out with one of the neighbors.

Early Blue (L to R: Jeff Okkonen, Nick Lewis, Dan Dillingham, Dennie Middleton) at the Rodeo Grounds beer tent in 1977.

Early Blue (L to R: Jeff Okkonen, Nick Lewis, Dan Dillingham, Dennie Middleton) at the Rodeo Grounds beer tent in 1977.

But the beer tent. Well, that was something different. For a few days every summer during Sparta Town & Country days, a fella could sit under a tent in the middle of the village and drink beer while the kids wandered up and down the street stoned on cotton candy and bouncing between the Scrambler and the Tilt-a-Whirl. Those were some glorious fuckin’ days.

Back then there was also a beer tent at the Sparta Rodeo every Labor Day weekend, and Dad would make an appearance there, too. The annual rodeo ended in the '90s after about 40 years. Town & Country Days is still going after more than 75 years. And beer drinking will never go out of style.

When they were still in high school, my buddy Dennie and his pal Nick got a shot to play the rodeo beer tent with their band, Early Blue. In the '90s, they started playing the Town & Country Days beer tent every year with another band, The Hype. Everything was swell until the night some gals started a rumble. The cops shut down the beer tent early, and shit got real when pissed-off partiers took out their frustrations on a few shop windows downtown.

They pillaged.

It was a village pillage that led to the band being banned for the next dozen years.

In this inaugural episode of the Nash Creek Radio podcast, I tell the story of Sparta Town & Country Days and the triumphant return of Dennie’s band to the beer tent stage.

Check it out – and then go try to find some gravel.

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John Terry