On Saturday, Barry County community members are invited to enjoy smoked chicken and pork sandwiches at the 52nd annual Wheaton Volunteer Fire Department Barbecue. The event will be held in the Wheaton City Park.
"We will be lighting the fire at 5:30 a.m., and we will be serving by 10:30 or 11 a.m. on Saturday," said Wheaton Fire Chief Bob Lombard. "We will have 1,000 half chickens and 500 barbecued pork sandwiches. The menu goes over good every year."
Barbecue attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy either a one-half barbecued chicken, a baked potato, baked beans, bread and milk or coffee or a barbecued pork sandwich with baked beans. Community members should save room for dessert also. This year, the fire department will be selling ice cream throughout the afternoon.
"We wanted to add something new, and we have never had ice cream at the barbecue before," said Lombard. "We will have cones and dishes of a variety of ice cream flavors."
The Wheaton United Methodist Women will also be selling homemade pie by the slice again this year. Each year, women in the Wheaton community prepare dozens of homemade pies and desserts, which range from apple pie to cherry cheesecake, for the annual barbecue.
"We have a lot of booth space available for the barbecue," said Lombard. "Space can be reserved for arts and crafts booths or by politicians or others. We will have a 120-foot tent set up, so we should have plenty of space for everyone."
For more information on the arts and crafts show, call 417-652-7359.
The annual Spud McCracken Memorial Horseshoe Pitch will begin at 11 a.m. This year's event will offer $200 in added money. Teams of two can register the morning of the barbecue or pre-register by calling 835-3003.
"We have some good entertainment lined up for the barbecue," said Lombard.
The Englands will perform at 4 p.m., and Wilderness Road will take the stage at 5 p.m. The Victorymen will entertain audience members at 6 p.m., and Glory Bound will perform at 7 p.m.
"The annual duck race will start at 8 p.m.," said Lombard. "We will award $500 to the first place winner."
Barbecue attendees will have the opportunity to purchase ducks for the race throughout the day. Cash prizes will be awarded to first through fifth place winners. Second place will be awarded $250, and third place will earn $125. A $75 cash prize will be given to the fourth place winner, and the fifth place winner will receive $50.
"Edwina Tichenor will offer karaoke in the park after the duck race," said Lombard. "People really have a good time with that."
Over the next few days, the Wheaton Volunteer Fire Department will be working to prepare the Wheaton City Park for the annual barbecue. In addition to cleaning the facilities, volunteer firefighters will paint the park benches before the barbecue event.
"I really enjoy seeing all the people who come out for the barbecue," said Lombard. "A lot of people come just to visit with others who they haven't seen for years.
"Plus, this is a good money maker for the fire department," said Lombard. "We are not a tax district. We are still membership, so we do struggle, but the barbecue really helps out every year."
Proceeds from the annual barbecue celebration will benefit the Wheaton Volunteer Fire Department. Funds will be used to purchase new firefighting equipment and pay for other expenses.