Wheaton firefighters celebrate 50 years of barbecues

Thursday, July 17, 2008
On July 12, twin sisters Jaylen and Hayden Warrior and their cousin Jade Wilson braved the rainy weather to cheer on their ducks during the Wheaton Volunteer Fire Department's duck race. The race was held during Wheaton's 50th annual barbecue on Saturday. Hundreds of individuals took a chance on the race by sponsoring one or more of the plastic ducks this year. A duck sponsored by Pate Banks crossed the duck race finish line first, which earned Banks a $500 cash prize. Democrat Photo

Wheaton Barbecue attendees endured heavy rain to cheer on hundreds of winged racers during the duck race that was held during the Wheaton Volunteer Fire Department's 50th annual barbecue on July 12.

"We sold out of chicken and barbecue pork sandwiches," said Bob Lombard, Wheaton fire chief. "We had a good turn out all day long. It turned out real fine until about 20 minutes until 8 p.m."

After a full day of sunshine, barbecue attendees who were gathered around the duck raceway were surprised by a thunderstorm that blew across Barry County.

"That was the first time that we have had the duck race in the rain," said Lombard. "It has rained during the barbecue before, but it always rained and then cleared up in time for the race."

In spite of the wet weather, youngsters and adults huddled around the water-filled ditch that serves as the duck raceway to cheer on the flock. Over 590 blue, pink and yellow ducks were purchased for the event.

Duck race winners were: Pate Banks, first place, $500; Amy Cartwright, second place, $250; Karen Washburn, third place, $125; Sue Ann Smith, fourth place, $75; and Nikki Allen, fifth place, $50. Washburn donated her winnings back to the Wheaton Fire Department.

In addition to the duck race, barbecue attendees enjoyed musical entertainment, an arts and crafts show and the 13th annual Spud McCracken Horseshoe Tournament.

"The entertainment we had throughout the day was very good," said Lombard. "We had two very good bluegrass bands and Glory Bound, which is very good. It seemed like they were all good. We had plenty of shade, and people really seemed to enjoy themselves."

Children enjoyed fun houses, pony rides and other carnival activities available throughout the barbecue event.

On Saturday night, amateur singers took the stage to perform karaoke, which was hosted by Edwina Tichenor Karaoke. Community members enjoyed the karaoke music until midnight, said Lombard.

"I think some of the firefighters even got up and sang," said Lombard. "They really had a good time."

Wheaton Barbecue proceeds help support the membership-based Wheaton Volunteer Fire Department. This was the 50th barbecue firefighters have hosted.

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