(Reprinted here with permission from Ed Howard, Editor, Nebraska StatePaper.com)
First legal glass of brew in tiny Tryon
A Beer In The Sandhills Brings $700
By GEORGE LAUBY
North Platte Bulletin
July 10, 2004
TRYON - Would you drive 315 miles to a Sandhills saloon for a glass of beer?
Would you pay $700 for it when you got there?
Monty and Tom Kemp.
Fred Jalass did both Friday, right there at the Iron Horse Saloon.
Jalass also bought himself a guaranteed place in local history.
His was the first legal beer ever sold in this little town.
Tryon is 35 miles north of North Platte, and serves as the McPherson County seat.
Jalass, an organizer of the annual Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska, said he awoke
Friday and decided to drive the 315 miles and "maybe bid once or twice."
"I thought, 'It's Friday,'" he said with a shrug and a grin.
Auctioneer Denny Isabell of North Platte, who arrived with his crew in a
white stretch limousine, called for $1,000, but soon accepted an opening bid of $100.
The bidding went up $50 at a time and reached $500 before it stalled.
"This is the fun part," Isabell said as the crowd took a breath.
"You can go ahead and bid and see who gets stuck with it."
There was a round of laughter.
At $650, Isabell reminded the crowd that the money would provide a scholarship
for a 2005 McPherson County High School graduate. Jalass bid again, and it turned
out to be the last bid despite some pleas from Isabell.
Longttime Tryon residents Tom Kemp, 83, and Clara Daly, 93, were among the
of 75 people who attended.
Kemp has lived in Tryon since he drifted through in 1940 and stayed. He married
Son Monty and daughter-in-law Elsie were with him Friday at the Iron Horse.
"I think it will be all right," Kemp said of the now wet county.
"Everything we can do to help the town is a plus.
Kemp said he planned to drink and eat at the saloon Friday night
"and on down the road a ways."
Daly, who has lived in Tryon for all of her 93 years, took a philosophical
noting that people usually find a place to drink if they want to drink, regardless
of the county regulations.
In deference to patrons who still oppose tippling, the saloon will include
room where booze won't be served
Iron Horse Saloon owner Cliff Hendrix spent $200,000 on renovations to the
which features a sports car theme and the original front boardwalk.
Hendrix put down a new well, set up a new menu, built a bar and stocked the liquor.
The saloon will employ 8-12 people, and provide a complete menu of food, including
"The Knucklehead", a $7.95 top sirloin dinner.
Hendrix found the bar stools – made from racecar rims – at Kelly
Equipment in Omaha.
It took him about six months to get the place ready and convince the county board
and community to approve liquor by the drink.
Jalass said his contribution keeps with the spirit of BRAN, which contributes
a year to high school student scholarships, collected from an $85 participation fee
from each of the 600-650 bicycle riders.
BRAN riders are scheduled to ride through Tryon in 2005 on their way to Arnold
Arthur. They will come through in the morning and grab a light brunch.
Tryon resident Jay Peters, 25, said "most of us have been waiting"
by the drink, and the new saloon will save them a trip to Stapleton or Mullen.
As Jalass posed for photographs after the bidding, the crowd startiedcalling
their drinks. A bartender put on the first song of the new era -- "I Love This Bar"
by Toby Keith.