Tons of people came out to the newly renovated Meate Park in Portageville. The population of this town is just over 3,000, and it seemed like every single one of them were there, including Brian Swilley. Mr. Swilley is a 103 year-old World War One vet, who, as he showed us, can still play a mean fiddle.
Shinbone, and Portage Bay were early names for this still thriving farming community. This proud and spirited town has grown leaps and bounds from the old Shinbone Trading Post. Portageville's big event is the soybean festival, and this town has a lot of beans to brag about.
It's also home to the University of Missouri's Delta Research Center. Researchers here have developed a dozen new soybean varieties and defeated a major plague. Jack Fisher, of the research center says, "one variety, hardwick, is resistant to all known races of cyst nematode. In fact, it's used by most soybean breeders in the united states to get the resistance to nematodes." Farmers earn more and you eat better because of crop research done at the delta center.
Portageville might have a claim as the farm center of the bootheel. Missouri grain company crowns the town's skyline seen from interstate 55. Town pride shows in neatly kept homes and beautiful churches. The Spanish style architecture of St. Eustachius is a reminder that this area was once part of the Spanish empire.