The Wheaton Volunteer Fire Department will host its 50th annual Wheaton Barbecue in the Wheaton City Park on Saturday, July 12.
"We will have around 1,200 chicken halves," said Wheaton Fire Chief Bob Lombard. "We will also serve around 600 barbecued pork sandwiches."
Wheaton volunteer firefighters will spend this week preparing for the annual event, which draws nearly 2,000 Barry Countians to Wheaton each year.
"We will clean the pits and paint," said Lombard. "The park is in pretty good shape, so we will just do a lot of clean up to be ready to light the fires at 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning."
Volunteers will begin serving barbecue meals at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. Firefighters will be cooking until 4 p.m. and meals will be served until the food runs out, said Lombard.
Wheaton Barbecue attendees will be able to choose between a dinner of one-half barbecued chicken, baked potato, baked beans, bread and milk or coffee or a smaller meal consisting of a barbecued pork sandwich and baked beans.
Those attending the event will also have the opportunity to purchase dessert from a pie booth that will be set up near the barbecue stand. A large variety of pies, donated by members of the Wheaton United Methodist Church, will be available for purchase by the slice or whole pies.
In addition to the outdoor barbecue, the annual event will feature music, an arts and crafts show, the annual duck race and the Spud McCracken Memorial Horseshoe Pitch Tournament.
The arts and crafts show will run throughout the Saturday celebration. Arts and crafts booth space, which is available to vendors at no charge, will be shaded by large tents.
Vendors can reserve booth space by calling 417-652-7359. Additional booths will be available on a first-come, first-served basis Saturday morning.
The annual Spud McCracken Memorial Horseshoe Pitch Tournament will begin at 1 p.m. The tournament will offer $200 in added prize money.
Each year, the tournament, which is organized by Janell Brattin, offers a full afternoon of horseshoe pitching. Contestants participate in a round robin tournament, and each team gets an opportunity to pitch against every other team. The tournament usually attracts around a dozen two-person teams.
Community members interested in participating in the horseshoe tournament should be at the pitch area by noon to register, pay a small entry fee and practice for the competition. With $200 in added prize money, most teams will receive a prize equal to the entry fee at the end of the competition.
Musical entertainment will begin at 4 p.m. Musicians will perform blue grass, gospel and country and western music. The music lineup will include: Glory Bound; Wilderness Road; Big Ridge Bluegrass; and Denny Wolf, Missy Wolf and Jeff Culver.
Karaoke music, which is hosted by Edwina Tichenor Karaoke, will begin at 8:30 p.m. Amateur performances will continue until all interested individuals have had the opportunity to sing.
The annual duck race will begin at 8 p.m. Duck race winners will receive one of five prizes. The first place winner will receive $500. Second place will be awarded $250. Third place will receive $125. Fourth place will be awarded $75, and fifth place will receive $50.
Individuals will have an opportunity to purchase duck race tickets throughout the barbecue event at a booth that will be set up in the center of the Wheaton City Park.
"This is a fun event. The guys really enjoy it, and the crowd really gets excited," said Lombard. "We hear people rooting the ducks on. It's one of our favorite parts of the barbecue."
Parking for the annual event will be available on Main Street and in various locations around the city park.
All Wheaton Barbecue proceeds benefit the Wheaton Volunteer Fire Department.
For more information on the arts and crafts show, call 417-652-7359, or to pre-register or learn more about the horseshoe tournament, call 835-3003.