Comfortable Shoes Camps Past

Original Comfortable Shoes

In Memory of Tammie Adams - The Heart and Soul of Comfortable Shoes.

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That Dead Armadillo

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Dead Armadillos - Karen Fosse

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Listening to Ron tell his story of how he came to be connected to Comfortable Shoes Camp( through knowing Doug at work), it became obvious that everyone had a story to tell, and I set off to make a “camp-web” of the various connections. I know I failed to get everyone’s story, but we want it, so please send to me ( or to Doug via the Web Site E-mail.

         Shereen West       

MOOSE/JIM:  Eddie met Chip because Eddie was wearing a Winfield shirt at a college class. Chip invited Eddie & Tammy to a party where he was a no-show until much later. But Eddie and I met  at the party. I grew up in Joplin ½ block from the Graue family, so I already knew Randy.  The first Comedy Jam was because Tammie couldn’t sing and we needed to do something different. Pretty soon everyone contributed and were rolling on the grass.

MANNIE:  When did you first come to Winfield?  My first Winfield was ’85. We came with nothing… NOTHIN’” I slept in a ditch under my poncho. Moose and Larry W. slept in the Saab. Rick M. says he saw me and Moose sitting under a tree playing in the rain. The camp name “Kick a Dead Horse” came about because we played the same songs over and over. (Note:  Eddie says it was never the camp name). Patti claims she met me first around ’85. I knew Taylor and Ed in California and they came here to visit me.  I knew Moose from Joplin at a party when I heard a“Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks” record playing and found someone who was interested in Dan Hicks.

EDDIE: ( The original MAYOR of Camp Shoes ) : It was never “Kick a Dead Horse “ camp. It was “Contents [Under Pressure]”. I became mayor at “Spring-Fed” then  “Porch Swing” then “Contents” then “Shoes” and [maybe] now “Contents” (but no one has bothered to re-paint the sign.  The parachute has been the biggest one in the Pecan Grove—probably have had it 10 years

VICKI:  I first came to Winfield in ’86 with Patti—we knew Mannie & Moose were in the “Pecan Grove”. Highlight of my Virgin Year: Finding the camp!” We pulled in at  5 A.M. , looked around, and said ‘Oh, Shit!’. We saw portapotties (how appropriate)  and heard a set of spoons up the road. Right there, with Moose’s spoons, is where the Porta-Potty shuffle (but not yet the song) originated. I met Mannie because Karen’s sister Diane took me to his last party in the “barn-house” (c. 1984).  She made up her mind that Mannie and I were going to be together.

TAYLOR : Mannie & I met in Santa Cruz , CA in ’74. My girlfriend knew Mannie & Ruth. Ed was living with me in CA and we were wanting to look for land.--went to Maine , Minnesota , and the Ozarks. When Mannie came out to Missouri we stayed with him. The land we live on in Missouri found us. I met Karen when she was working in a health food store in Rogers  and she said, “Come play some music with my friends”. 

We’ve been to Winfield 9 or 10 years. EVERYBODY was telling us to come—we just couldn’t see going to camp with 10,000 people when we live out in the country. It has really rejuvenated and re-inspired our music-playing.

DOUG:  Linda and I came with Patti and Randy, and immediately knew this was home.  Been coming home ever since. Randy and I work together and went to school together from kindergarten on.  When Comfortable Shoes formed Randy invited Linda and I to come listen to their performances.    He is now the shoes camp breakfast manager and short-order cook. “I bought the griddle from my mother-in-law in ’99 or so.  How long have you been coming? Come around to the front of the R-V. He has a sticker for each WV since ’96

MOOSE: The Shoes camp and Comfortable Shoes is about something bigger than just one band. So it is now Comfortable Shoes camp where Contents Under Pressure, Aunt LuLu, Crazy Horse, Subject to Change, High on the Hog, Indagrass, and other members of the tribe are camped. “Just my opinion”.

GEORGE: I have known Dennis & Shereen the longest—we met in Cassville in ’75.  In ’77, Dennis, Marshall Wilborn and I came to Winfield in Dennis’ van. We parked in day-parking, went to the festival, looked for music pickers but there didn’t seem to be any (didn’t even find the Pecan Grove at all!). Another funny part is: we got all the way back to Boulder City  (just a short drive from home) and just COULDN’T go any further—had to stop and sleep before we could get on home.

After ’81 we came and camped with  ‘We Love Bluegrass in Liberal, Kansas ’…long-time friends of Dennis. I got hooked in with Comfortable Shoes camp through Taylor, Ed & Karen (Ed had met the Joplin folks in school… in college). Beverly didn’t come for several years.

DENNIS: My story is about like George’s in that we came for the first time and didn’t find anyone to pick music with and went home.  Then I came again in ’79 to camp with friends from Liberal for several years until they quit coming. By then we knew lots of people. I saw the artist at the festival spray-paint the dead horse with legs sticking up and then it was hanging out of the tree the first time we camped here.  That’s why we thought it was Kick a Dead Horse camp.  Dennis probably holds the camp record of most consecutive years coming to Winfield.

GARY :  In 1983, Tammy, Eddie and I pulled up under that tree. I’ve known Eddie since Cub Scouts. I met Moose at a party at Chip’s.  I didn’t get to every Winfield because I moved to Colorado.  I came back when I was living in Arkansas.

DANI:  I met Gary at a club in Joplin and met Chip at Blues Jam.  I came to Camp Shoes in ’97.

PAULA:  Michael and I met Vicki at Ashgrove  in 199l. We all went through job training together.  She took off right after getting this new job for 2 weeks at Winfield. We came with her the next year—in ’92. Michael is definitely here. We were born on the same day. All things happen as they should.

CELLO BILL :  I came to Winfield # 2  in ’72.  I have come off and on through the years, but lately it had become more of a day-tripper thing. Shereen and Dennis brought me into the Shoes camp when Shereen recognized me in’01 on the road (we were high school friends).

MARTI:  I have known Paula the longest.  A friend approached me about having a gathering at my house after an Arts Fest in Springfield . So now in my house there were about 45 people—all unknown to me.  In the group were Paula, Taylor , Karen, Jeremy, Josh W., Manny, Vicki and Moose. 

In the early 90’s I had been camping with a group that had a “closed circle” type of camp. These folks here (at Shoes’—she has a Shoes purse around her neck) are just so nurturing. These sweet loving people have always been open, encouraging, and inviting: Last year I placed 4th in the Auto-Harp competition. I was floating high and it was midnight and Moose stops all music to announce we have an “Auto-harp winner” in our camp.  About 100 people were listening to the shoes camp music circle. Just last night Rick was leading “Let it Be” and the musicians were about finished, but Moose just jumped in and yelled “Auto-harps” for us to take a break.  Now I’m one of the land-rushers. We stake out the corners and everybody fills in.

JOSH P.   I met George because of his sister ‘many moons ago’ in Austin . So I’m camped here because of knowing George & Bev. But we used to work the festival and then we got so busy and didn’t come. Now we’ve been back about 5 years.

FAY:  I came to Missouri from Texas to visit a mutual friend of mine and of George & Beverly’s in ’81 ( Beverly was pregnant with Josh).

RICK M.:  I was hauled to Winfield in 1980 against my better judgment. I didn’t play guitar, but afterward went out and bought a $50 guitar and learned 3 chords. I wandered in from the road and Mannie & Moose were playing. I didn’t move from that circle all night and I still have a tape of it (’86). All the people I’ve hauled down here (about 50) are from Kansas City . “This camp is too rowdy”. I got a job in the Lawrence ER and met Keith (Bluestem). My background in cowboy music was that my dad taught me ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’. The first time I played Winfield was on Stage 1. The cowboy thing is a persona.

DAVID M.:  I have known Taylor longest and through him met Mannie in ’75 or ’76. I thought Edn-Taylor was one person.  I came to Winfield the first time with Fay in ’83 or ’84.  I haven’t been to every consecutive Winfield because sometimes I’ve been out of the country.

TONY:  I was Winfield-born in 1991. -- got invited into the camp because of Karen & Taylor. I met them at a Comedy Jam—I was staying at another camp; that was ’94 or ’95. I knew who Mannie was because I saw him on stage and then met him in the Shoes Camp. The next year, I came in with Bev and Karen for land rush. Karen saved me a spot under that tree. We had found out we lived fairly close together in Missouri , and played music together. I’ve been playing music quite awhile -- I played my first guitar Mass 35 years ago.

BEVERLY : We first camped with the Liberal, Kansas group who were friends of Dennis’.  I started coming on a regular basis in ’83, but it was off-and-on for a few years.”

BEN W.: I didn’t come to Winfield until my Senior year in high school because I have PROTECTIVE parents. Josh got to come a lot earlier because they could see by then that it wasn’t working out (the protective parents part). I still hold that against him.

I have come every year since ’90. He might hold the record of having driven farthest specifically to be at  the festival. Once I drove here from Prince Rupert , Canada .  I had put the car on a ferry in Sitka , AK . We had to camp for a few days before we could cross the border.  Another year I came from Montana via Austin One year I brought Justin  who I met because of my Mom.  Justin came to Camp Shoes this year but had to depart early. This year I brought Brandi.

ANNDREA: I met Jeremy while working in ’93.  I brought Patti R. for her Virgin trip this year. 

PATTI:  Winfield '03 was my virgin year.  I had to hang up flyers about Comedy Jam Sat. Night and I hung them everywhere. I know most of the campsite from Anndrea who I have known since high school. I actually wrote a story and took pictures about Winfield and the Comfortable Shoes Campsite."

RYAN:  I met George and Josh P. at Salmonfest last year. We just happened to stop at Winfield and Josh squeezed us in” This year Ryan and the others from High on the Hog are back to the Shoes camp.

DEBORAH O:  I met Eddie, Moose, and Jeremy in 2001 at Santa Fe Trails festival. I just found them on the road.

DESIREE and MATT F.:  We worked together in Cassville. We’ve been together 4 years.

GREGG:  I was traveling through K.C. in the maiden voyage of ‘Gladiator (AKA Blue Bison)’ and living in a collective for travelers. Sara P. was there after 9/11. She asked me if I was into driving to Winfield with her.  I met Chad and Josh W. in Lawrence because they were mutual friends of Sara P.  I’m from New York and there met a woman from Red Star, Arkansas who is interested in urban gardens. I wanted to go to the woods. Red Star is fairly near Fayetteville where I go to meet strangers and play music. I went to “Gypsy” for open mike. Chad F. and Josh W. were there and recognized me from the year before at Winfield (this was ’02). So now I’m back here in Shoes Camp.

RAVEN :  I met all the Wardlaws before I met Josh.  (This was in response to my assumption that she had met Josh at K.U.-Lawrence). “I came in ’98 with a friend and heard the music circle playing ‘Angel from Montgomery’ so I just took a little turn right into this place (my friend continued on down the road and I had to catch up to her and bring her back here).  Karen was singing. Then I fell over backwards in a short sundress. Question for campers: does Raven hold Most Embarrassing Moment title? The next day I am walking by and hear ’Hey, you!.....Girl who fell over in our camp!’  It was Karen and Beverly so I came on in.  Camp Matriarch is definitely Beverly but, if she was here, also Patti.  I like to cook outdoors, and we like to feed people.   I brought my Godmother who is camped out with Rick M. and folks from K.C. My dad came to the 1st Winfield. Mossman had put it together.

MIKE S.:  I met Josh W. on the 8th floor of Oliver Hall at K.U.- Lawrence. He had holed up in his room and I got him out. This is my 4th year at Winfield, and I came first with Josh. Before that, I played alternative rock n’ roll. (That first year he landed in the ER because of his allergies) Did you go on home?  “No—just loaded me up on inhaler and came on back.  Winfield is the place to be.

ERIN :  I came with a friend once in high school.  But this year I came with Mike; I skipped classes at K.U. and skipped work.  The “I Can’t, I’m Going to Winfield” bumper sticker says it all.

ANGELA:  This is my 4th year.  I know Eddie because he is a friend of my Mom’s and  I had re-met up with Eddie. Last year I fell out of the tent, injured my arm and went to the ER. They sent me back with a sling, no cast; “Not broken”. I was lovingly cared for all festival by Michael who made sure my arm was wrapped well and gave me ibuprofen  and kept me quiet by plying me with alcohol.  I spent a lot of time in the hammock, but I still had fun even so. This is a most loving group of people.

JOHN:  Last year was my first.  Angela and I met at family gatherings as kids. Then 10 years later we met again.  But we always had a thing for each other.

BILL:  I’ve known Vicki the longest—she was my babysitter.  I was thrown here as a castaway—last year Vicki gave me a ticket because she couldn’t be here.

KARRY:  I’m here with Fay. It took me 7 years to come. I met Fay at work with the Girl Scout Council.  Last year I only knew 1 person here and she was camped right across the street. This is my 2nd year at Winfield.

KATE & DAVE:  I (Kate) knew Caleb W. at college in Sitka (AK). We were looking for land and a place to land. When we came to Missouri , we knew we had found it. We had found Caleb’s family and lived near them for a time. We came to Winfield in ’01 and then again this year Beverly is definitely our choice for Camp Matriarch .

JEREMY:  Moose is my Dad. I moved in with him when I was 20. I had never heard bluegrass music before in my life.  My first year at Winfield was ’94.  One year I showed up late ( days late) and got grounded by Patti & Vicki for 2 days—they wouldn’t let me leave camp.   

JOSH W. I was a Freshman in high school my first Winfield.”  I brought Justin, Mike S., and Matt C. to Winfield. I had met Matt through Justin. “ Indagrass” is a Chad project with Matt C. and Matt F. with Ben playing bass. It’s home-grown Ozark holler music.   Catch Indagrass on Stage V.

CHAD :  I first came to Winfield when I was around 15 with Mom and Dad (Karen and Taylor). In ’01 I brought Sara P. who I met in Montana (but she’s from Kansas and already knew about the festival).  At this point, Chad asks about my story, and was kind enough to hear it.

SHEREEN: I first came to Winfield around ’79; we camped with some of Dennis’ high-school friends from the Liberal area. That first year, they drew us a great little map showing us how to get around to the Pecan Grove and where they would be.  But when we arrived, it was during the after-midnight Friday night rush. It had poured rain, vehicles were stuck and the traffic was at gridlock. Walnut Valley folks on tractors with chains were trying to pull people out of the mud. We had 4WD so the gridlock helped our friends find us—that first sight of the Pecan Grove was just a trip!

I am viciously allergic to ragweed pollen so I quit coming until the mid-80’s when good allergy relief medication came around. I am always tanked on Flonase at Winfield.  We got connected to Shoes camp through Mannie (didn’t everyone??)


DILAN: My name is spelled with an “I”. My mom (Dani) brought us; we’ve been coming 5 years.  I’ll still be coming when I’m 25. Definitely.

DONOVAN:  My story is almost like my brother’s (Dilan). Where did you meet Gary ?  We needed a place to stay and he let us stay with him.  I came first when I was 5. I’m 9 right now.  Do you play an instrument?  I’m learning to play fiddle, but I don’t know many songs yet.

MICHELLE: Mom and Dad (Josh and Eloise) have been coming here since my oldest sister was little. They ran the Good Food Wagon. I wasn’t born yet; they stopped coming when I was born. I met Molly playing house with my sister and she couldn’t come over here to this camp so I went there (Molly is camped with family across the road). I’ve been coming 5 years.  I will still be coming here when I am 25.


ERICA: I’ve known Raven from high school. This is the 1st anniversary of my Virgin year.  I was ‘Virgin of the Year’ in ’02 –I think because I opened a Sunday evening bottle of whiskey and dropped the lid in the fire.  This became the Ceremony of the Gauntlet—we had to drink it all.

DAN R.: Highlight of Virgin year: Singing for Michael’s services on Tuesday   

ALASKA MIKE:  I came from Alaska but went to Florida to drop off a boat before I came on here.  I am on a wandering.

MATT C. & SYDNEY:  We know Josh W. and Chad because we are friends of Justin from Rogers .  We are Virgins at the camp.  What have you been doing to commend yourselves for “virgin of the year” honors?  We didn’t know virgins are supposed to do anything.

MARK:  I have been friends with Paula and Michael for years.  I think Virgins are supposed to clean up trash and make hot toddies, probably.

BRANDI:  We need your story


TAMMIE (Winfield 1983 – 1999)

LUKE (Winfield 1987, 1999 – 2000)

MICHAEL (Winfield 1992 – 2002)

MANNY (Winfield 1985 - 2004}

KAREN ( 1993 - 2011)

RICK (Winfield 1980 - 2014)

PATTY LOU (1986 - 2015)