Community rallies around historic St. Joe bar after fire

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ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Some call it the “Cheers of St. Joe,” others know it as the oldest saloon west of the Mississippi River. Saturday, hundreds of people came together to raise money to help rebuild The First Ward.

The bar burned down on St. Patrick’s Day this year.

“This bar is where a lot of people in the community had their first kiss, their first drink,” said co-owner Ryan Gerster. “People remember what they did there and they remember being there and they want to go back.”
Nearly a dozen bands performed at no cost on Saturday night to raise money for The First Ward.
“You are welcome, you are treated with respect and you are treated with equal fairness when you are there,” said Rachel Riley, who was a bartender at the bar for a year before it burned down. “The older the patron the more sense of history they have attached to the bar.”
Three local competitor bars in St. Joe shut down Saturday night to come out to the fundraiser.
“We closed, we cancelled entertainment and decided to work here,” said Susie Dannar, who owns “Amnesia Too,” on St. Joe Avenue. “They are our neighbors and we absolutely love them and it impacts business for us when they are closed and we are trying to get them back open.”
Gerster told FOX 4 he hopes the bar will be back open in less than a year. ​