Walk Back in Time from the Audrain County Historical Society announced earlier this year that it was moving to a biennial schedule, occurring in even-numbered years. This does not mean there are no Walk Back-related events this year, however. A concert is planned for 7 p.m. Oct. 19 at Hickory Ridge Orchard, 24688 Audrain Road 820, as a fundraiser for next year's event. The concert was originally scheduled 7 p.m., Oct. 12, but was postponed due to weather.
"We've had a lot of people say they are sad Walk Back in Time is not happening this year and so we say to them, 'Come on out and help us raise money so we can make next year even better than ever,'" society Executive Director Lori Pratt said.
Gates will open at 6 p.m. and will feature the talents of Kenny Blake, a Mexico native and former Branson entertainer with the likes of Shoji Tabuchi and at the Grand Palace and God and County theaters.
"He's very talented and he does a little bit of country, he'll do gospel, oldies. He even does some Elvis and comedy routines. He's a very talented singer," Pratt said.
Tickets are still on sale for $15 at the historical society, Moser's Grocery store and at S.O.S. Shipping. Tickets also will be available at the event for $20. Attendees can get an at-the-door ticket discount, though, if they bring a nonperishable item, which will be donated to the Laura Miller George Help Center. The event is outdoors so guests are requested to bring lawn chairs, blankets or other ground coverings and chairs to enjoy the concert. An inclement weather date is Oct. 19.
Brandt and Kelsey Schisler, owners of Hickory Ridge, like to do what they can to be part of the community, Pratt said. "They have only been in Mexico for about a year-and-a-half and they have had success, but they're really trying to do more, so they're trying to do projects with other groups," she said.
The idea of the concert came about while a society board member was discussing ways in which to support Walk Back with the Schislers, Brandt Schisler said. The orchard also will be open for its typical weekend festivities of U-Pick pumpkins, the corn maze and more in the morning and afternoon ahead of the concert, he said.
"We're going to have the concert, sandwiches, chips and I'm going to be pressing a bunch of raw cider. I'll have a bunch of cider for sale. Just creating a kind of nice little fall outing for Walk Back in Time," he said.
Blake had previously performed for the society's Christmas gathering and always has the bug to sing, Pratt said. "He's definitely one of those people who has it in his blood, and he just loves performing and loves to sing," she said.
Since it is a bigger concert, Blake is bringing backdrops and a multitude of costumes, Pratt said.
"I think people, if they don't come, are going to hear about it afterward and wish they had," she said.
Along with the music, Blake plans on performing a comedy routine with an old grandmother imparting wisdom on the audience.
"My grandma shows up, but actually it's me. She's kind of mouthy and crazy," Blake said.
Blake went to college in southwest Missouri and auditioned for a show in Branson on a "what if," he said. He also spent some time working for evangelist Jim Bakker.
"I've been singing for about 40 years. It's all I have ever wanted to do, so I have always had an interest in it," Blake said, adding he did some traveling and performing with his sister, Nancy, before college. "We traveled to a lot of venues in Mexico and the mid-Missouri area."
While Blake started as a music major, that transitioned to a psychology major where he focused on developmental and organizational psychology. Despite the change in major, he still loved performing which inspired him to audition in Branson.
He returned to Mexico to care for his mother, who has since died. He now serves as the music minister at the Mexico Assembly of God Church and works for Country Financial in Columbia as an insurance agent.
"I expect everyone that comes will really enjoy themselves," Blake said about Saturday's concert. "It's going to be a two-hour concert. I'm going to have all my glitz and glitter and everything too."
Hickory Ridge is in its second year, first opening fall 2017. Schisler had developed a plan around five years ago with plans for owning and operating an orchard. The plan accelerated when they purchased the then Binder's Apples and Alpacas. They hope to turn the orchard into a wedding venue and plan to plant 1,200 apple trees within the next two years.
"We created a fall agritourism event where people could bring their families out,” Schisler said. “We have people come from Illinois, Iowa to come down here. It's pretty neat.”