Chimney Park RV Resort in Mission with its landmark 106-foot chimney, has played an important historical role in the RGV area. In 1907, the land that now encompasses this resort supported the first lift station in the area powered by a boiler supplying power which pumped and distributed water from the Rio Grande River to other areas. Chimney Park Resort, which opened in the 1960’s, retains its rustic charm though it has undergone extensive renovations.
Each Wednesday from December-March, musicians and fans from around the RGV gather at Chimney Park Resort’s Hall to perform and listen to classic country music. On February 8th, I visited this jam and was warmly greeted by the Winter Texan co-hosts Ron Liptow from Alma Center, Wisconsin, and James Kropenske from Mitchell, South Dakota who organize and manage the weekly jam.
The weekly jam has seven musicians on stage that accompanies each jammer’s musical selections comprised of the following individuals: Keith Churchill-keyboard, Bob Doughty-guitar, Elvin Jones-guitar, James Kropenske-lap Cajun drum and guitar, Ron Liptow-guitar, Cathie Robertson-bass guitar, and Larry Robertson-harmonica.
The following are the jammers who sang on stage with some using their guitar as accompaniment: Andy Anderson, Mel Curry, Jane Curry, Frank Deramus, Dianna Gibson, Janey La Point, Richard Miaham, Tony Ozark, Gene Scott, Mary Scott, Susie Q Schutz, Bill Swartz, Bob Wiebe, and Lily Wiebe.
I want to feature two Winter Texan musicians Ron Liptow and James Kropenske who continue to entertain throughout the RGV at jams, community functions, and with notable musicians.
Ron and his wife live at Chimney Park. Ron is unlike many musicians in the area who use iPads and other devices to display their musical selections while performing. Ron loves to put his music to memory. His father inspired him to pursue music when Ron was in his twenties.
Ron has performed over the years at numerous jams throughout the RGV and Wisconsin. He has performed with the Triple R band, Highway 83 band, at churches, and at nursing/assisted living communities. Ron is a “country guy who enjoys playing/singing in a small jam atmosphere”.
James Kropenske received his first guitar in the fifth grade and started his musical journey with a school band in the sixth grade. His inspiration to pursue music was his grandpa who was a highly acclaimed musician performing with many instruments. In turn, James introduced music to each of his children at an early age with one son becoming an accomplished sax performer.
James has performed with Rusty Rierson, the Vintage Country Music band, and Marie & Country Gents band where he is the lead vocalist. He also performs at many service organizations including the VFW and American Legion following a prestigious career with the military and law enforcement. He was nominated into the South Dakota Music Hall of Fame in 2020.
I invite all country music lovers to visit this season and next the talented musicians at Chimney Park. While there, explore the park from a historical viewpoint and enjoy its ambiance on the banks of the Rio Grande River overlooking Mexico.