For what it’s worth

It’s an irony, for sure, that Worth County has the lowest per capita income in the whole state. The lack of economic development assures miles of green rolling farmland, and not much congestion. Where I found them, the people were friendly, and it’s obvious that people in this area like to have fun.

In this out-of-the-way world a million miles from interstates and fast food joints, I found the world’s greatest small town. It’s not a tourist spot. There’s nothing that immediately grabs you by the eyeballs. Yet Allendale may be the cleanest, neatest, most functional little town I’ve seen.

In the quiet downtown, only a block long just off Highway 46, a curious sign hangs on one building front: B&W Widget Industries. Nobody answered the door, so I peeked into the windows to see tidy tables, ready for people to assemble widgets or eat dinner. The proprietor of the restaurant next door, the Oldtowne Café, said she’d been doing business next door to the widget company for six years and knows the owner but still isn’t sure what the company does. It’s refreshing, albeit a bit mysterious, that in a town of 54 people the neighbors don’t know everything about each other. 

The town might be tiny, but it has a website, promoting the Allendale Community Betterment Club, which has “one mission in mind, making Allendale a better place to live, work, play, and visit.” It’s working.Across the street from the widget-maker, I heard the crack of a cueball busting the billiards at Allendale Pool Hall.

The town surrounds a nice city park, with a big red corkscrew slide in the middle, and fronted by a monument commemorating Allendale’s centennial, 1955. There’s a tire store and a volunteer fire house and some other tidy buildings. And excitement? Every year, 2,500 rodeo fans pack the town for the Allendale Rodeo. There are dozens of rodeos in Missouri every year, even in towns with fewer than 400 people, like Hume and Downing, Green Castle and Bible Grove, even tiny Barnard. But this double-digit town is the smallest venue.

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