More than a Movie – SOLD! is History
By Paul Gibson

            The address for Team Perka World Headquarters may be on Alabama Street in St. Joseph, MO, however both our driveways empty onto Stockyards Expressway. This road that at least half our teammates drive daily on their way to work was named after the historic St. Joseph Stockyards. The actual stockyards are something many would say was a huge part of the foundation of what St. Joseph would become, growing from its humble beginnings as founded by Joseph Robidoux IV, (son of a French Canadian immigrant not unlike the founding family of Team Perka.)

            The city was incorporated in 1843, starting as an outpost and last stop for those headed westward, it was the eastern starting point of the Pony Express and home of outlaw Jesse James and location of his murder. These are just a few tidbits of history of our hometown, but the best was yet to come. 

Photo By Mindy Ward

            In December of 1887 the St. Joseph Stockyards opened, and with it the birth of a booming livestock market. In the 1920s a half million animals were auctioned off annually. The Stockyards were the center point of an Ag economy full of packing houses, restaurants, inns and shops, that brought in so many visitors and wealth into the town. On May 19th, 2021, the auctioneer performed his final chant, the pens were emptied, and people slowly made their way out of the sale barn and off the property for the last time. 

Photo By Mindy Ward

            Aside from the employees, sellers, buyers and onlookers, another group of individuals were also there on that day. Armed with mics, cameras, and open minds and hearts to see what they could capture, others was the team from Coin In a Log Creative.

“We didn’t know if it was going to be a 3 minute social media clip, 15 minute piece, 30 minute piece, feature length… we just knew there was a story to be told, and no one was covering it” Kylar Penland who became the editor of SOLD! An American Stockyards Story told me. They were there, and the cameras rolling. 

“As we were there and saw the access we had, I knew in the back of my mind I knew we were capturing history. I knew this was an important moment in agriculture history.” Drew Ames, director of project, added on. 

            From that moment they set out to make a historical telling of not just St. Joseph Stockyards, but what American Stockyards have meant to the Ag economy in general. ‘SOLD!’ follows the growth and change in St. Joseph and agriculture communities across the nation. Exploring the impact of the stockyard, packing, and grocery industries through in-depth interviews with cowboys, historians, ranchers, auctioneers, and industry experts.  

            On May 21st, 2022, almost exactly one year after the Stockyards here in St. Joseph closed, Coin in a Log presented a sneak peek premier of their feature length documentary. Through some discussions with their team and ours, we were privileged enough to be asked to partner for this momentous event. This blog is not about us, we just simply came in at the tail end and hopefully eased some of the burden of presenting this amazing film on that specific evening, at that specific venue, and we made some new friends along the way.     

            To set the stage and paint a mental picture. The marquee spelled out the film’s name, the screen was in place, and the crowd shuffled into the Historic Missouri Theater for this world premier of history on film. Our representatives from Team Perka that were lucky enough to be invited took our seats in the front row of the Balcony, close to center and settled in. Live music played as we chit chatted with new and old friends, before listening to a welcome and introductions from Kyler and Drew. 

            The lights dimmed and the opening credits rolled, and this humble man was glued to the screen from opening moments, until the screen went black at the end of the credits. The content of the film is amazing, and full of so much history of stockyards in general and our dearly departed St. Joseph Stockyards. The stories of the people then and now that make the industry great, a peek into the future, and those that carry on the legacy were tastefully depicted; drawing a tear to many in the packed theater.

            A dear friend of mine, Rachel Knowles, who was looking for a life change and found her way to the stockyards as an employee those last six months, was also on hand that night. In fact she was a part of the film, and the emotion in her story was real, and was just one of many examples of what the stockyards meant to so many. She told me, “The film was full of emotion and history. They say you learn something new everyday. Prepare yourself when you watch “SOLD” because you will learn valuable history. History that is slowly being lost and forgotten.”

            I would say she hit the nail on the head. I encourage anyone to see this at the first chance you get. It is currently undergoing a few revisions, release plans are in flux, but when you get the chance, WATCH IT. You will learn so much, and I certainly am glad I spent my Saturday night in that historic theater, with these now certifiably amazing historians and film makers.  I am SOLD. 

See The Trailer to the Movie Below!